Freshman orientation kicks off in-person school

Freshmen prepare for their first official day back


Gregory Olcott

Orientation Squad — 23 Big Mac juniors and seniors came to help with orientation. The Big Macs and Mr. Olcott took a group photo after orientation.

Andrew Christofferson and Josh Bass

McLean hosted its annual freshman orientation on Feb. 22, inviting current freshmen to the building in anticipation of the return to school on March 2nd. Although the prospect of freshman orientation during the latter half of the school year is unorthodox, McLean was able to creatively adapt to the unusual circumstance.

Every year, freshmen have to acclimate to a new and more rigorous schooling environment, and orientation helps to ease the transition by giving 9th graders the chance to familiarize themselves with the school. While this year’s orientation was different in many ways, its overall purpose and achievements were not.

“I learned about the education department as well as the hallways,” freshman Jamie Coates said, “The most valuable thing I learned was the ways all of the hallways [are meaningfully color-coded.]”

This year the orientation was primarily run by Big Macs since freshmen have had monthly meetings with their Big Mac and gotten to know them over the course of the school year. Each Big Mac was tasked with giving their assigned freshmen a tour of the school and answering any questions or concerns they had about the first day of school.

“The Big Macs knew what to do and where to go,” Big Mac program sponsor Gregory Olcott said. “They crushed it.”

The Big Mac volunteers did everything they could to ensure that the freshmen have the easiest transition possible. Even though the event ran smoothly, pandemic regulations presented some challenges that students had to overcome.

“I think [in-person school] will be up to par academically but not socially, unfortunately.” junior Big Mac Claire-Mary Smith said. “ [At the orientation,] I experienced administration telling us to stay six feet apart and it was hard to interact with other people.”

Orientation also tried to calm any anxiety or worries the freshmen class had about returning to in-person school in an unfamiliar building. Despite not having the ideal first year of high school, many freshmen were still excited and prepared to return to in-person school.

“I feel very prepared and ready to get back into the swing of things,” freshman Lee Davis said, “All of the staff were super helpful.”

Overall, orientation was successful and the Big Macs and McLean staff are excited to see a new batch of freshmen come in and thrive at McLean High School.