Campbell High School: ‘Welcome, Freshmen! This is Sparta!’

Campbell High School freshmen sign a commitment to graduate banner during an event designed to celebrate the end of their first week in high school on August 4.

“This will set the tone for the rest of the year. They are trying to give us that sense that we are finally in high school. I feel really excited about it. This is a big step…” declared Campbell High School freshman Josue at a lunch-on-the-lawn event for freshmen.

Josue is one of more than 800 Campbell students shedding his role as a middle schooler and learning what it’s like to attend one of the largest high schools in Cobb County, what it’s like to be a Spartan.

Campbell staff members want to help Josue and his classmates transition into high school.

“We know it is a really critical year in terms of long-term success in school and even their articulation into college and careers,” said Dr. Jeanne Walker, Campbell principal.

For the second year, Dr. Walker and her team celebrated the freshmen’s first week in high school with an outside lunch, pumped up with entertainment from a local radio DJ.

“Last year, we started out with this [freshmen experience event], and it really seemed to make a difference in the mindset of the students, their ability to quickly focus in, and take high school seriously,” Dr. Walker explained. “The relationships in the building were much stronger. We felt we could interact with the freshmen and get them to understand our expectations a lot better having spent this quality time together.”

One of Dr. Walker’s goals with this year’s event was to get the ninth graders excited about high school and the memories and friendships that they will make over the next four years.

“I know I’m going to grow with these people, and I’m going to miss them,” confessed freshmen Maya as she looked ahead to her graduation day. “I know this is going to be a family that I’m going to grow up with, and I’m going to mature along the way.”

Family—That was a shared description among the new high schoolers playing soccer and football, dancing in a crowd near the DJ, or relaxing on the lawn eating hamburgers and hotdogs.

“I feel they are trying to bring us together as a family and make us more united,” Josue remarked. “I think in high school that is really important.”

Creating an opportunity for new friendships to blossom, the freshmen event eased rivalries among students loyal to different middle schools.

“I came from Griffin Middle School, and there are a lot of people who came from Campbell Middle School,” Maya explained. “I think there is a lot of debate on which middle school is better, but at this point we are all together as a team. Now, we are family. There is no Griffin versus Campbell. It is one big family.”

Dr. Walker praises the diversity of Campbell’s freshmen class, but wants the students to have opportunities, like the lunch-on-the-lawn event, to get to know each other and to interact with their teachers outside the instructional confines of a classroom. The events, according to Dr. Walker, allow students to learn that their teachers want to help them inside and outside the classroom.

“We want the freshmen to embrace being a Campbell Spartan,” Dr. Walker added. “We want to make sure they understand that learning can be fun.”

From the first day on campus, the ninth graders knew high school is very different from middle school. High school gives them their first taste of adulthood, and freedom.

“Middle school classes were more confined,” Josue recalled. “The teachers were stricter about what we could do, but in high school we have freedom and independence, and it feels really nice to be here.”

Maya shared her classmate’s appreciation for the newly-acquired freedom. For her, freedom meant simply being able to take shortcuts outside to get to classes faster.

As part of the Friday activities for freshmen, students signed a commitment-to-graduate banner.

“I feel it is really important that we make that commitment to ourselves and to our teachers that we plan to graduate,” Josue said.

The new high schoolers also traded in their old middle school t-shirts for new Campbell shirts, as a symbol that they are now part of the Campbell family and ready to yell, “Go Sparta!”

Watch video of the Campbell High School freshmen enjoying lunch on the lawn: http://goo.gl/HcoEES