By ANTHONY SPAULDING
Director of Communications
Pope John XXIII Regional High School
SPARTA — A huge line out the front door, a packed cafeteria, filled bleachers in the new blue and white gymnasium, and lots of buzz and smiling faces around campus.
Those scenes highlighted New Student Orientation Day at Pope John XXIII Regional High School, where hundreds of new eighth through 12th grade students and parents took their first steps into the school at the corner of Andover Road and Sparta Avenue.
“This was great,” Pope John Assistant Principal and Eighth Grade Administrator Mr. Schleer said. “The students and parents were so excited to be a part of the Pope John family.”
“This was worthwhile,” Pope John President and Principal Father McHugh said. “It is wonderful to see so many new faces between all the parents, grandparents and of course, the children, who will be walking through our halls and sitting in our classrooms for the next four to five years. It’s great excitement to get ready for the school year.”
The day began with new students registering in the main hallway, where they received their combination locks for their lockers. Then, they went down the steps and into the school cafeteria, where they ate bagels while they chatted with current students, faculty and staff.
At around 9:30 a.m., they all walked through the courtyard and into the new gymnasium, where they listened to opening remarks from Father McHugh said and Mr. Schleer.
Following the speeches, the 132 new students who were in attendance were divided into small groups and took a tour around the school and its facilities with current students. Along with the classrooms inside the building, they went to places such as the newly renovated Bella Biondo Research Center and the upper turf field, where they participated in icebreaker activities and games.
The new students also received their class schedules, lunch information and other materials needed to begin the school year, which starts on Aug. 28 for 10th-12th grade students and Sept. 1 for eighth and ninth grade students.
Mr. Schleer said this orientation was a great way for the new students and parents to ease any anxieties they have coming into the school year.
“We want these kids feeling positive before the first day of school,” Mr. Schleer said. “You could tell that they were excited and nervous, at first. But to see their faces after they go out on their tours, hang out with our kids, get all their questions answered, talk to their teachers, see the facilities, it is a total 180-degree shift in attitude.
“They are smiling and can’t wait to be here.”
This was evident in two incoming freshmen, Dante Duteau and Nicholas Colavito, as they were showing their parents where their future classrooms were while standing in the courtyard and also sharing their schedules.
“It looks new, very organized and easy to navigate,” Duteau said. “I can’t wait to be here.”
“It’s cool to see where you are going to spend the next four years,” Colavito said. “It’s a new beginning.”
The two boys also rekindled their friendship, as they used to play on the same youth soccer team, and were excited to know they will be attending school together.
“We played on the same soccer team at some point,” Duteau said. “But it’s great to see him (Nicholas) again.”
“We hadn’t talked in about two or three years, but it’s nice to see that we are going to the same school,” Colavito said.
Now that these two and the other new first-year students have been added to the Pope John family, Mr. Schleer, Father McHugh and the entire school are looking forward to seeing these children grow up.
“After today, they will realize this is their school,” Mr. Schleer said. “They really are a part of the family and we can’t wait to have them here.”