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Orientation starts freshmens journey
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Ripon High freshman class members were assembled in the bleachers of the North Gym for a 10 a.m. Tuesday orientation where they were urged to talk to those next to them after a scramble put them away from members of their elementary schools. - photo by GLENN KAHL

It was a day to meld into the Class of 2017 for some 250 new freshmen at Ripon High School under the direction of RHS Activities Director Jill Mortensen and her team of student Link Crew members in the school’s North Gym.

The orientation began Tuesday at 10 a.m. and ran up until noon with group scenarios of small groups of students who gathered from the gym to rooms throughout the campus.  The last half hour offered tours of the school’s facilities by Link Crew members.

The students first crowded into the bleachers where Mortensen attempted to get them to join in several spirited song selections.

“If you are not willing to go out of your comfort zones, you will not make friends,” she said.  “If you see someone in your circle who you feel needs help do not say anything negative to them.  Eye contact is scary with someone you don’t know,” she added, “but it also shows confidence.”

She urged that they make a difference for any class members who were obviously holding back from being a part of the class in their first few weeks together.

After the students were scrambled away from their friends around the gym floor and told not to talk while they were changing their spot on the floor among class members, Mortensen told them to look at the person next to them who they didn’t know.  She asked them then to talk to each other – to the strangers – for 30 seconds about the best thing that had happened to them over the summer.

“You can turn red in the face; I don’t care,” she said.

It was difficult for some, easy for others – but there were smiles coming in the brief exchanges between classmates coming from different Ripon elementary schools. 

Assisting Mortensen in the social Link Crew led formation of the new class that will work as one until graduation in four years were Jill McPherson and Elizabeth Qutob.