Cheerleaders in cherry-red uniforms held open the doors of Harker Heights High School on Tuesday, greeting students who eagerly packed the cafeteria for student readiness days.
Sophomore, junior and senior students received their schedules, locker assignments and textbooks on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“The readiness days give students an opportunity to find their way around, said Jennifer Bonheim, special education coordinator. “It alleviates the chaos of the first day.”
With an enrollment of about 2,400, a smooth transition into the new year Aug. 26 is the ultimate goal, assistant principal Larry Brazzil said.
Readiness days do more than prepare students. They also allow families to gather information. Parents can sign up for Project Graduation, a group that organizes a celebration for seniors at the end of the school year, and Parent Connect, an online system that allows them to view their children’s grades and attendance records.
“We’ve always gotten a good response on readiness days,” assistant principal Melissa Davis said. “Teachers love to see the kids … and students look forward to this day, anticipating their teacher assignments.”
To spread the word about readiness days, automated calls were made to the parents, postcards were mailed and information was posted on the HHHS website and on the marquee outside the school.
On Thursday, Knight Camp took place. Incoming ninth-graders began the day with an upbeat presentation in the auditorium, complete with a greeting from Principal David Manley, performances by the drum corps, drill team and cheerleaders, and student council skits designed to educate newcomers on rules and regulations.
Following the presentation, students went on a school tour, participated in teambuilding activities and attended a club fair. The purpose of this lengthier orientation was simple.
“We want freshmen to feel comfortable and know their way around on the first day,” Davis said.
Senior and Student Council President Chase Lalouette was responsible for much of the Knight Camp planning this summer. She spent the past several weeks preparing activities.
“We want students to get involved, whether its joining Student Council to help coordinate homecoming or Student 2 Student because they want to interact with new people throughout the year,” Lalouette said. “There’s many ways to be a part of the community.”
Senior Jennifer Babb shares her fellow students’ enthusiasm. “I’m ready for senior year so I can prepare for college.”
She hopes to attend Baylor University and study journalism, she said. But for now, she has exciting responsibilities on her campus.
Babb is the president of S2S, where she assists new students with their transition to HHHS. As a military child, she has a keen interest in making newcomers feel welcome.
Students feel this acceptance across HHHS, a school whose district consists of 48 percent military families. This year, Babb is starting a new club, Interact, which will bring students together to work on community service projects.
This year is especially exciting with the introduction of Jerry Edwards, the new football coach and athletic director.
“He’s a go-getter, and we’re very passionate,” Davis said. “This is Texas. Football is definitely our biggest sport.”