The Ripon Unified School District’s 2017-2018 school year starts today just before 8 a.m.
That’s also about the time some 927 students – based on the early enrollment figures – at Ripon High are expected to crowd into the North Gym for a Staff Spirit Rally.
This welcome-back-to-school event will feature a fashion show by staff and the cheer squad boosting the spirits.
Tuesday was reserved for 275 ninth graders – one of the largest classes at the school for freshmen orientation, according to Jill Mortensen.
She’s the Link Crew advisor at RHS. For the past 13 years, Mortensen has been the coordinator for the high school transition program that welcomes freshmen to their new surroundings.
This includes working with her Link Leaders. She has 80 upperclassmen who stepped up to serve in the role as mentors to the freshmen.
They immediately jumped right into the morning gathering by entertaining the Class of 2021 with a flash mob scene.
Even Mortensen, who is Activities Director at RHS, joined in the fun, dancing alongside only to see her Link Leaders quickly disperse.
Yet her message was clear – have fun and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
“That’s the challenge you have when bringing together students from the five elementary schools,” Mortensen said. “They want to cling to together with their old friends – we’re asking them to step outside their comfort zone and make new friends.”
Some of the ways of doing that is via ice-breaking activities and other games that can form a bonding among students.
Take ‘Ha-Ha,’ for example.
This low-risk activity is made up of students linked together while lying flat on the ground with their heads pressed against the other person’s abdomen. Even the slightest giggle or laugh is capable of setting off a chain reaction, Mortensen said.
“Laughter warms up the environment,” she added.
Friday is Club Rush during the 11:21 a.m. lunch session, consisting of a DJ coupled with a back-to-school barbecue.
An all-school dance is planned for the later in the evening.
To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail email@example.com.