Eighth-grade orientation was Wednesday in Boardman

By William K. Alcorn



Get involved.

Involvement was the primary message given to next fall’s Boardman High School freshmen, the class of 2022, at the eighth-grade orientation Wednesday at the high school.

About 600 prospective students and their parents rolled into the high school to hear what the school has to offer for its 1,350 students besides academics.

There are 24 sports programs and more than 30 clubs.

“It’s a big place. Find a niche or join a club. It will make the school more friendly, and it is proven that students who are part of a group not only do better academically, they have a built-in set of friends,” said Anne Bott, assistant high-school principal.

There is a corresponding club for virtually all the 100 academic courses available, Bott added.

The cornerstones of Boardman High School are the 4 As: Academics, Arts, Athletics and Activities in the school and community.

Faith Colkitt, 14, daughter of Steve and Sarah Machuga, said she plays cello in the orchestra and plans to continue that activity when she gets to high school. She also will study Spanish.

“I can’t believe Faith is already going to high school,” said her mother, a feeling many of the parents at the orientation must have had.

New classmates, new courses, new teachers and new expectations can all be points of anxiety for students moving from middle to high school, officials said.

Principal Cindy Fernback offered some tips to incoming freshmen:

“It’s OK to be nervous. Even the juniors and seniors and teachers are nervous.

“I encourage them to challenge themselves by taking rigorous courses.

“Learn to ask an adult for help. Find that one adult in the building with whom they have trust. We will do whatever it takes, be it paying a utility bill or buying them clothing or washing clothing through the Angel Network. We are here to help.

“Get involved in some activity. I can’t stress enough how important that is.

“Student involvement is part of our security plan,” Fernback said.

“Kids who are dangerous often don’t feel a sense of connection. All three principals spend time in the cafeteria, and we see who is sitting alone, and we try to help them,” Fernback said.

She said several things are in effect to secure the building.

When classes begin, there is a single point of entry and to be buzzed in, people have to show a photo ID, which is run through a background checking system. If the person is flagged, a silent alert goes out and Paul Poulos, the school security officer, a township police officer paid equally by the township and the school district, shows up.

Fernback, who described Poulos as a “good guy with a gun,” said the students love him and are eager to share with him.

“It’s really cool to see that relationship. They trust him,” Fernback said.

Poulos also had his own advice for students.

“See something, say something. If you see a kid that seems lost and alone, tell us so we can get involved. Be responsible users of social media,” Poulos said.

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