Escondido Charter High School Preview Day
Can you remember the excitement bordering on trepidation you felt when you left the cocoon of middle school/junior high school and entered the vast unknown of senior high school? The feeling of enthusiasm and adventure was palpable. That experience, if carefully managed by the gaining high school leadership, can be a memorable encounter. On Thursday, December 10th, the 8th graders of Heritage Junior High School experienced that positive introduction to high school while sitting in the stands of the ECHS White Tiger gym.
Attention-grabbing humor was the winning strategy and a skit performed in front of the touring 8th graders was the vehicle. Steve Prodan of the Flex Program and David Vidosic of the Traditional Classroom Program (TCP) gained the attention of the students with a short skit featuring the good-humored competition about which program is better : TCP or Flex. As Mr. Prodan and Mr. Vidosic “argued,” 20 ECHS juniors acting as “tour guides” held up posters with talking points and lined up on either side.
Enter Ms. Jackie Lansing, the head of the Flex Program. Ms. Lansing came in to break up the “argument” and stated that both programs are excellent and that ECHS is designed to provide different academic programs that support different student goals. The 8th graders were now informed, positively focused, and receptive for the next event.
Enter ECHS Director of Student Services Erin Dunlap. Mrs. Dunlap introduced each tour guide team and each team’s university name. As each pair of tour guides was introduced they went to the standing microphone and described what they liked best about ECHS. The 8th graders were then invited to assemble into their pre-assigned groups at various locations in the gym. At these locations the tour guides held placards identifying group names representing universities attended by ECHS graduates including Azusa Pacific, CalTech, SDSU, Stanford, Notre Dame, Cal Poly, UCLA, the US Naval Academy, USC, and the University of Oregon. The tour guides then conducted an “icebreaker” activity within their group designed to introduce everyone, relieve tension, and get conversation going among the tour members.
"High School Preview Day is intended to give incoming freshmen a quick introduction into the different programs that we offer here at Escondido Charter High School. The skit that Mr. Prodan and I participated in gives us an opportunity to show some of the quirkiness that makes this school so special and allows us to have a little bit of fun while doing so" commented Mr. Vidosic.
“High School Preview Day is a great opportunity for both programs to showcase what makes them Charter. From a funny skit, to tours led by our upperclassmen, to Chick fil-A for lunch, it is a wonderful day to start inducting 8ths graders to the high school family" said Mr. Prodan.
Lunch was provided by Chick Fil A at the picnic tables next to the gym. The tour guides remained with their respective groups during lunch. The guides answered questions, helped serve lunch, directed students to the Student Union for drinks, provided restroom directions, and directed the 8th graders to gather for the next phase of the tour.
That phase was the ‘Clubs/Sports Information Fair’ in the gym. The visiting students were invited into the gym to talk with representatives of ECHS sports teams and clubs. Tables were set up around the gym for each club and sports team to use while talking with the 8th graders. The students were receptive in their reactions "I can't wait to meet new people and join the soccer team" enthused eighth grader Leif Jacobsen. “I am looking forward to do music and fashion. I also can't wait to join the volleyball team and play with my friends" said Jessie Bender.
The last stop on the tour was the American Spirit Theater. There TCP Director Marc Gilbertson greeted the 8th graders and provided a battery of reasons why ECHS is a great school. He introduced the slide show “A Year at ECHS.” After it concluded, he introduced the Saxon Day video clip. Both presentations highlighted campus culture. After the slide show ended, ECHS Executive Director Shawn Roner provided closing remarks encouraging the students to make the Flex or TCP programs their 9th grade destination.
Asked about her take-away, Heritage Junior high School 8th grader Kyra Moss responded "I think the high school has a great campus. When I went there for a tour of ECHS, the campus was very clean. Plus, we can get credit for college while still in high school." Her classmate Noah Martineau concurred "I am looking forward to getting early credits while in high school at ECHS, so I can make it into bigger and better colleges in the future."
Heritage Flex Academy 8th grader Johnny Keeling had a different take: "I'm looking forward to leadership and track and field. I'm also looking forward to Homecoming."
"The 3D printer was what caught my eye. I can't wait to use that and I also can't wait to play basketball on the girl's basketball team" commented Ailysh Buehler.
"What was memorable? Seeing the engineering programs was delightful! I can't wait to participate in them!" said Mya De La Rosa and Mary Testa stated "I think that the room with the digital arts stuff is most memorable. I am looking forward to do work in the awesome Flex Lab!"