Hundreds of students gathered at Ellison High School on Friday afternoon to prepare for the upcoming school year.
The campus kicked off its annual orientation — Eagle Fest — in the school’s auditorium with speeches by staff and performances by Ellison’s band and cheerleaders.
Principal David Dominguez said Eagle Fest helps new students, especially freshmen, feel welcome.
“We want incoming freshmen to feel comfortable and come in here knowing that this is a friendly place,” said Dominguez, now in his fifth year as the school’s top administrator.
Ellison is bracing for a projected enrollment of 2,609 students, with about 900 freshmen. With the numbers of students continuing to grow, Dominguez said it is more important than ever to ensure all students make positive connections with staff and their peers.
“You need to take a big campus and make it small,” Dominguez told students. “If you get connected and involved, you will be successful.”
One way for new students to get connected is through Ellison’s various student organizations. The campus has more than 65, from large and well-known programs like band and cheerleading, to clubs in niche areas like anime.
“There is something for you here,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez also said the school makes extensive use of the Internet and social media to stay in contact with students and their parents.
“I think the key is keep utilizing those tools to get a positive message out to students and their parents,” he said.
After the assembly, students were invited to tour the school and participate in several games and team-building activities.
While Friday marked the first time many students visited Ellison, 17-year-old senior Adriona Hill was preparing for her final year. Hill advised incoming freshmen not to slack off on their school work, and said they should make the most of the next four years.
“After graduation, it’s time for college and the real world,” Hill said. “Be smart and have fun, because you aren’t going to get these years back.”
Ellison High School will start classes Aug. 26.