Brief: New Students Learn the Ropes at Smart Start

Students new to Friends got a tailored introduction to the Upper School.


Photo by Alan Hardman on Unsplash

Pizza makes everything less awkward.

Audrey Lin and Lucy Murphy

Anxious students milled around pizza boxes, unsure of themselves on the first day of Friends Smart Start, August 15th. Student senators made the rounds, introducing themselves and chatting over lunch, trying to break the ice with students new to Friends in grades 9-12.

Smart Start is an orientation for those new to the school (including freshman, sophomores, upperclassmen, and exchange students). It’s a 3-day program that gives students the opportunity to socialize with other new students, and familiarize themselves with the campus, before the schoolwide orientation for new and returning students begins.

After their shy pizza lunch, Smart Start participants spent three hours engaging in icebreakers, taking a tour of the school, and getting a first glimpse at their schedules. They were also introduced to the Quaker practice of Meeting for Worship. Conversations started out stiff, and slightly awkward, but ultimately, they helped students feel more welcome.

Over the next few days, students received their school-issued Chromebooks, and attended specialized sessions about different areas of student life:  academics, clubs, student leadership, and Quakerism. They also got a tutorial on navigating the school website, especially the Assignment Center. By the end of their third and final day, students were better acquainted with one another, and better prepared to adjust to the social and academic life at Friends.