For eighth-grade students, the idea of high school being only a year away can be an exciting time. For others, it can be a time of uncertainty and nervousness.
For both groups, however, it is a time filled with options and potential.
To assist these incoming freshmen, Bellevue Public Schools has offered new events while growing current programs to help students reach their full potential in high school.
The new program this year was the High School 101 night, held Jan. 16 at Bellevue West, for both incoming Bellevue West and Bellevue East high school students.
“We had a huge turnout,” Bellevue West Principal Kevin Rohlfs said.
He said the night was a time for families with first-time high school students and covered such topics as daily student schedules and parental involvement in activities.
“Just things that, if you have a new student, you wouldn’t know about,” he said.
More new students turned out for the event than expected, Rohlfs said.
“Most people seemed to really appreciate it,” he said. “It calmed some of their fears.”
The idea for High School 101 began within the last two years, he said, when the school district wanted to address student preparation and planning for junior and senior years.
“There’s importance in making a four-year plan,” Rohlfs said.
While it’s acceptable for these plans to change over the course of high school, he said it’s crucial for students to get started on the right path from the beginning.
For example, BPS offers to pay for juniors and seniors to take some Metropolitan Community College courses. Rohlfs said these classes are perfect for students who want more “hands-on careers.”
“Starting junior year they can take Metro classes,” Rohlfs said. “They can get a lot of things done with no money out of their pocket.”
However, students who want to take this route need to plan ahead because these courses do not count as high school credits required for graduation.
Other examples include taking the right level courses during freshmen and sophomore year for students who want to take advance placement courses and receive dual enrollment credits for both college and high school.
Another purpose of the High School 101 night is to prepare families for registration, which takes place tonight, Wednesday, at both high schools.
Rohlfs said the event, which starts at 6:30 p.m., will include a roughly half-hour presentation, allowing students and parents time to meet with counselors to recommend courses, fill out registration forms and even receive guided tours of the buildings.
Another important part, he said, is learning about athletic and other extracurricular activities.
“We really emphasize getting involved outside the classroom,” Rohlfs said.
Helping new students and incoming freshmen is a major priority for the district, Rohlfs said.
Additionally, there are other programs such as transition classes over the summer for recommended students, a family picnic for any new family coming into the district and having a freshmen and new student only day on the first day of school, he said.
“It just gets them comfortable to be in the high schools,” Rohlfs said.