Freshman seminar program aims to prepare ninth graders for high school

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Freshman seminar program aims to prepare ninth graders for high school

Anna Arnsberger

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The ninth-grade counselor team is piloting a series of seminars this fall to guide students through their freshman year. The weekly meetings cover a number of topics to help facilitate a smooth transition to high school, but have yet to gain traction.

Ninth-grade counselors Ramona Singletary-Robertson and Wanda Flowers have planned workshops for every Wednesday after school until winter break, with a culminating session after break. 

The seminars involve discussions followed by hands-on activities, like reorganizing students’ backpacks. Each week focuses on a different subject, including study habits, how to use Naviance, and the importance of self-advocacy. Along with developing individual skills, the program aims to make students aware of resources available at Wilson.

Singletary-Robertson and Flowers, who were senior counselors last year, are using this program to teach their freshman skills they wish past students had known. 

“We thought about, if… we could do some do-overs, what were some things that we wish we could’ve started from the very beginning with seniors?” Singletary-Robertson said. The counselors decided to put their plan into motion after reflecting on the habits they deemed vital for freshmen’s success.

Other staff members have expressed interest in helping run with the program as well. 

“I have found that in some of the moments where we’ve paused in class, organized, [and] planned for the week, that it’s been helpful for the students,” said health education teacher LeJanika Green. Green hopes the seminars will give freshmen a space outside of the classroom to further their organizational and stress-management skills. 

Despite the excitement the faculty shares for the program, it has had limited participation in its initial sessions. Only one student showed up during the second week, and none attended the first. 

Singletary-Robertson said that many parents are aware of the meetings, and that the two counselors received “numerous emails from parents indicating that their kids couldn’t attend the first.” However, as student interest remains lacking, those affiliated with the program are brainstorming ways to incentivize freshmen to attend future sessions. 

The ninth-grade team still firmly believes in the project’s ability to aid students. Singletary-Robertson believes the meetings are vital, providing students with “a couple more tools in their toolbox of resources or interventions if they feel stuck.” If the program proves to be rewarding, Singletary-Robertson hopes to continue it for sophomore year as well.