Freshmen receive in-person orientation after much modification


Olivia Battles

Due to the social distancing and mask requirements, this year’s orientation required extra planning from the event coordinators, math teachers Colleen Barry and Lauren Hesemeyer, along with the peer mentors and peer leaders who helped run the event.

Aaliyah Yan, Editor-in-Chief

Freshman orientation is a long-standing Algonquin tradition. However,  because of COVID-19, this year’s orientation looked very different from the past. 

Rather than hosting it inside, the majority of orientation was spent outside sticking to the social distancing requirements. Each freshman was assigned a group that consisted of two to five other freshmen and two to five mentors. Orientation started with the groups doing a few icebreakers, listening to speeches from the staff and then taking turns going on a short 15-minute tour of Algonquin. 

Planning freshman orientation on a normal year is already difficult enough, but this year was especially challenging due to the accommodations needed to maintain social distancing requirements. 

“There were so many unknowns when planning freshman orientation,” coordinator and math teacher Lauren Hesemeyer said. “We had to wait all summer and come up with all these different scenarios if X-Y-Z happened. So we had all these plans in place and just got confirmation we could carry out these plans a week ago.”

Although this orientation may not have been as energetic as those in the past, it was successful in allowing the freshmen to acquaint themselves with their new school. 

“Overall I liked the orientation,” freshman Matthew Carreras said. “The tour guides were nice and I like the people in my group. Although the icebreakers felt a little forced, I enjoyed the tour and I got to get a feel of Algonquin.”

Despite the fact that some of the traditions had to be reworked or left out, the orientation still allowed for the freshmen to connect with one another. 

“I don’t think the freshmen are missing out on too much,” Hesemeyer said. “I think the fact that we were able to have an in-person orientation made the whole idea of an orientation a lot better. They were still able to have an in-person orientation and getting to meet people in the community really made it special.”

“I think the biggest difference is that there is no dance this year,” coordinator and math teacher Colleen Barry said. “However, we do have trivia night and the whole point of the evening portion is to form a community between the freshmen. The morning is where you meet them, and the evening portion is where they get to intermingle and mix.”

Many were also able to make the best of the situation and found a positive aspect of their experience. 

“I like that this year’s groups were smaller,” peer mentor and senior Emily Wu said. “I felt that the freshmen got to know us better and we got to know them better. I think they felt more comfortable talking to smaller groups of people.”

Furthermore, one of the biggest takeaways from orientation was that it allowed freshmen from both towns to meet each other for the first time.

“It was kind of boring because we were standing around most of the time, and I’m not going to remember Algonquin from a fifteen-minute tour,” freshman Ashley Yuan said. “But I did feel more excited to go to Algonquin since the groups were a mix of students from both of the towns. It got me thinking ‘Oh there’s going to be a ton of new people to meet.’”