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Posted: Friday, August 22, 2014 4:30 am

Butterflies fluttered in the stomachs of many freshmen walking in small groups through the hallways of Copperas Cove High School’s “Dawg House” orientation Aug. 14.

Each group was led by several returning student-volunteers as they navigated their way through the massive school that was divided into 18 different stations.

“I was totally lost because we did not have this when I was a freshman, so students are saying the tour is really helpful to them,” said Valerie Fernandez, 17, a senior and a volunteer.

At each stop, students learned information, such as how to check out textbooks, locating their lockers, but most importantly, they met other new Dawgs.

“The orientation gives everyone a day of stability, and slows down the pace, allowing time for asking questions one-on-one to ease nerves,” said Katie Ryan, deputy superintendent for curriculum and instruction. As a first-time mother of a freshman, Pamela Van Trease and daughter Maliya, 14, discovered the school on their own and felt overwhelmed by its size.

“It’s wonderful to have everything in one setting, but it will be a challenge for kids to get around here,” Pamela Van Trease said.

However, Maliya Van Trease was more eager than nervous thinking about her favorite subject — art. “I hope they teach me good things, especially about art, because I want to do that in the future,” she said.

As the groups zigged-zagged through the school, Dawn Polite, 15, a sophomore, directed students to lockers and used a map to point out shortcuts so students can get to class on time.

“I like to get students to feel comfortable about being here, because it takes a while,” Polite said.

Bardell Gilliard, the father of an incoming freshman and a sophomore, was familiar with the school, and thought the orientation was well organized offering a lot of information for parents and children.

“Every year it’s different and something always changes,” Gilliard said.

His daughter, freshman Shiann Gilliard, 15, expressed both fear and excitement. “I don’t know what to expect, but I want good grades and to have some fun.”

Yet nothing seemed to faze Jahnay Brown, 15, who walked down a hallway nodding her head with a map and class schedule in hand. “I’m looking forward to success as a freshman. ... It’s going to be an incredible ride.”

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