Amid the back-to-school hoopla, Tye Thomas is fearless about his future.

“I’m confident that they have faith in me as a trumpet player because my schedule indicates I’ll be in marching band, which is the hardest there is,” said the incoming freshman.

At Harker Heights High School, 451 incoming ninth-graders spent part of their day Aug. 15 at Knight Camp, which prepares them for the next chapter of their lives and gives them a glimpse of their new campus.

Administrators reviewed campus information and basic rules with students and parents. Student leaders from the National Honor Society, Student Council, cheerleaders, and other clubs facilitated activities such as leadership, team building, icebreakers and a campus tour.

Harker Heights Principal David Manley welcomed the students.

“My door will always be open and I’ll be visible around the campus if you need help,” he said.

Incoming students got free T-shirts and divided into three groups for several activities.

In the cafeteria, newcomers picked up IDs, schedules, textbooks, lunch information, locker assignments, bus schedules and other information about the campus and student expectations. Personal guides escorted the students around the school to their classrooms and lockers.

Gabrielle Wetmore, who attended Union Grove Middle School last year, said she was excited about starting the new school year, even though she didn’t specifically prepare.

“My goal is to make As in my classes during all four years of high school,” she said.

She took a liking to Junior ROTC, where she will seek a spot on the drill team.

Students who are in extracurricular activities, such as fine arts and sports, are more likely to be ready and willing to move on to high school, said Tricia McKelvain, a counselor at Eastern Hills Middle School.

“I believe both male and female coaches are committed to creating a vision for students of what it’s like to be on a high school team,” she said. “They try and inspire them by taking their teams to high school games. The students in middle school band are encouraged to attend the Spirit Spectacular and see the high school bands in action. ... This is another way to motivate students to excel academically.”

Most students are ready to make the transition into ninth grade but a few are hesitant, McKelvain said.

“The rigidity of the state-mandated tests are a real concern to some students who are making the move into high school,” she said. “We intervene when their scores at middle-school level seem to indicate some uncertainty and we assure them they will do well here at EHMS. That hopefully translates into them wanting to move on to high school.”

Administrators expect more than 650 ninth graders to enroll at the high school for the new year.

The first day of class is Monday.

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