Excitement builds as more and more students start showing up at Maple Lake High in August for a variety of reasons. Another summer has flown by and a new school year is upon us. Flashback to August, 1960. My left knee began hurting with each step I took. I followed doctor’s orders and did leg lifts three times a day with sand-bag weights to strengthen the joint, but the problem kept getting worse. I started the 7th grade with a limp and pain getting more intense. I dreaded walking the hallways between classes and school was far from a positive experience for me. At the end of September, a different doctor finally figured out my knee pain was caused by a displaced hip joint and the pain was being made worse by the knee exercises. Three hours after the x-ray I was tethered to a hospital bed with 10 pounds of traction pulling my hip back into place. Three days later, 3 stainless steel pins were installed to keep my hip in place. A few days after the surgery I was feeling pretty good and for the next week I thoroughly enjoyed watching every game of the 1960 World Series from my hospital bed. Game seven, bottom of the ninth, tied at 9-9 and Pirate Bill Mazeroski drives one over the left field wall and walks off as the Yankees stare in stunned silence. Best experience ever for a 7th grader! The rest of the year was not nearly as exciting but far more comfortable. I thought about that long ago “Fall Classic” while talking with High School Principal David Hanson about the start of the 2018-19 school year and the 7th grade/new student orientation. He explained that the program started in about 2005 and is part of the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports system used by the school. In addition to providing basic information to students and their families about what the 7th grade experience will be like, expectations of students, staff and parents are shared. Students in higher grades who are transferring in to Maple Lake are also given helpful advice and materials about their new school. Mr. Hanson gave me permission to be a “7th grader for a day” at the orientation session, so I could see the process first hand. Just before the session began on Tuesday Mr. Hanson introduced me to 7th grade student Kass Fynboh, who agreed to let me tag along with her through the orientation. She and all the other students needed to get their class schedules before the program started so we parted ways for a bit. The auditorium was about half full when Mr. Hanson welcomed students and family members. He talked about pride, respect and responsibility being the components of the Irish Pride that is practiced throughout the school. He mentioned how interested students can start the process of running for one of the 5 student council seats open to 7th graders. Next, he instructed the students to go to their first hour classrooms and asked the parents to stay in the auditorium to get more information. I lost track of Kass in the rush of students and started to look for her as the halls cleared. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only “7th grader” feeling a little lost at the time. I met a group of three 8th grade students in the hallway and learned two are new to the school and the third is a Maple Lake student giving them a personalized tour. I later learned there are about 15 students new to Maple Lake High School this year. Irish Mentors and Student Council members act as guides for the transfer students and the groups of 7th graders as they move from classroom to classroom. I catch up to Kass in Mr. Tungseth’s room to hear about his American History class and then walk the halls with her group as she meets more teachers and gets more information. Mr. Meyer talks about English and notes that lunch is always 4th hour. Ms. Roske explains about “choice books” that are self-selected books that students should be reading in study hall if they have completed their other studies. Pre-Algebra is taught by Mrs. Haglin and she provided some written materials for her new students. One page talks about her education, family and hobbies. The other sheet lists the class materials needed, including the easy to forget calculator, along with expectations for responsibility and preparation. Food and drink are allowed in class as long as it does not become a distraction. Cell phones should not be out in class unless permission has been given. First offense: phone is turned in to the teacher for the rest of the class. Second offense: phone is turned into the teacher for the rest of the day. Third offense: phone will be turned into the office and parents will have to pick up the device from the office. The sheet also has Mrs. Haglin’s phone number, e-mail address and Remind app chat information so students can talk to her for help outside the classroom. The last task of the day was to locate lockers and learn how to open them. Mr. Hansen warned me that the combination lock is often the most anxiety producing part of the day. Kass mastered the process quickly with a little help from one of the older students and spent some time organizing her school stuff. The hallway became even more crowded as parents came down from their orientation to connect up with the students and ask “Did you memorize your combination?” and “Are you going to remember everything?” What I learned. 1. 7th grade has gotten considerably more complicated since Bill Mazeroski broke the Yankees hearts. 2. Providing information and setting expectations is a very positive way to start the school year.
An introductory slideshow was shown to the new students of Maple Lake High School.
(Photos by Bob Zimmerman)