RIPON – The typical case of first day of school jitters was a bit more severe for Ripon High junior Blake Morrow when he rolled out of bed Tuesday morning.
It wasn’t the fact that he was embarking on his voyage as an upperclassman. It wasn’t the AP-heavy course load that he had to prep all summer for.
It was because before he would even step foot into a classroom he’d don the uniform of the Ripon High mascot and along with fellow leadership student Savannah Vizcarra emcee the school’s first official assembly of the 2012/13 school year with the only official practice coming just moments before the school’s roughly 900 students filled the North Gym.
But given the chance, Morrow – who stayed close to home for the summer so that he could tackle his homework and football workouts – wouldn’t have changed anything.
“It’s something that we started talking about doing last year, and last night I started freaking out a little bit,” he said. “But when I got in here this morning I started looking forward to it. I think it went well and it’s a good way to start off the year.”
With the school’s freshmen getting their formal introduction on Monday morning during the annual Link Crew event – which pairs the incoming students with upperclassmen that show them the ropes and give them the grand tour so they can become more familiar with their surroundings – Tuesday’s event was a chance to welcome back returning students in a fun and festive atmosphere.
The idea, said Principal Lance Morrow, was something that the faculty had discussed last year and decided to incorporate as a way to set the tone for the coming academic calendar. The rally gave staff a chance to spell out changes to policies governing tardiness and acceptable cell phone use while Morrow encouraged all of the students to “join the tribe.”
“We wanted to get people involved and get the students committed to the idea,” Morrow said. “Typically on the first day of school the teachers go over the syllabus and the rules and by the end of the day the kids’ eyes are glazed over – the day sort of drags on.
“This way they’re excited to come to school and after something like this they’re more ready and willing to listen. We’ve got a great staff here and I think it sets the year off on the right foot for everybody.”
The new twist, Vizcarra said, was something that she was looking forward to being a part of ever since plans started to fall into place at the end of last year.
“We really prepared as much as we could,” she said. “I’m just glad to be back. After a while you miss your friends – here at Ripon High it’s really like a second family, and I’m excited.”