At Shoemaker High School on Thursday, summer vacation looked to be in dire jeopardy with a new school year just around the corner.

School leaders invited the new freshmen class into the building for an orientation two-and-a-half weeks before the first day of school.

Killeen High School hosts freshmen orientation Saturday. Harker Heights’ orientation is Thursday. Ellison’s orientation is Aug. 16. The first day of school for students is Aug. 26.

Shoemaker assistant principal Pedro Morales said the school was excited to encourage its newest students and introduce them to their campus in hopes of beginning a journey culminating in graduation.

About 400 new Shoemaker students accepted the invitation and stepped through planned activities to learn about

their school.

Through a federal Gear-Up grant, the students received their first Grey Wolf T-shirts and lunch in addition to a building tour and information sessions. Upon receiving their T-shirts, student activities coordinator Dawn Richardson fired

up the students about the importance of spirit. In other sessions, volunteer teachers offered tips on staying organized, what to expect the first day of school and behavior expectations.

In addition to learning about lockers, schedules and textbooks, the new Grey Wolves learned from upperclassmen leaders.

Junior Kendrick Thomas said he made a lot of mistakes when he first started high school and wanted to help the new freshmen avoid the same pitfalls.

“I told them my story,” he said, explaining that he skipped school and slept in class and as a result had to retake some of his classes.

“I’m telling them to stay straight, study hard and stay involved,” he said.

For Thomas, getting focused on school led him to the KISD Career Center and the education and training strand for students interested in teaching.

“I volunteered for this because I want to teach and this is something that helps ease their nervousness. I like helping them through the fears I had.”

Thomas is involved in band, theater and Student 2 Student and splits his day between Shoemaker and the Career Center. He said staying busy has helped him focus.

Realistic or not, Morales said the goal is that all 721 registered Shoemaker freshmen graduate. More than half of those attended new student orientation.

When the students first entered the building, they wrote letters to themselves about their goals for high school. Those letters will go in a time capsule and be returned in four years to the Shoemaker Class of 2017.

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