YATESVILLE — The familiar smell of classrooms and textbooks is in the air as the new school year is set to begin.
First-year students at Pittston Area High School caught a whiff a bit earlier than most during freshman orientation on Thursday, during which over 240 students and their parents packed the high school auditorium to hear opening remarks from school principal John Haas.
The purpose of the orientation, Haas said, is to give the students a sense of relaxation before the school year officially begins on Monday, Aug. 31.
“We just want our students who are transitioning into the high school to ease their anxiety of transitioning of one building to the next, or transferring from a different school to our district,” said Haas. “We want to make sure the kids can come through, walk through the hallways, meet some of their teachers, get their schedules, find their lockers, which is big; and just be more comfortable with the high school transition.”
After remarks from Haas, guidance counselors Jennifer Alaimo and Tina Kayden and school nurse Mary Beth Yakobitis, the students met their homeroom teachers. Students received schedules, locker combinations and a school handbook before being sent on their way to mingle with other faculty members.
Math teacher Amanda Wascavich enjoys meeting her new students every year, but it’s seeing them grow up that she enjoys most.
“My biggest thing is not seeing them at freshman orientation, but seeing them later on down the road and I remember them coming in as freshmen and growing,” she said. “I feel like in high school they really do grow and they become adults. They gets jobs, they drive, and it’s exciting, and I think they’re excited to be in high school, as well because they bring a different type of energy to the school.”
Wascavich sensed anxiety among students and she knows going from being the big kids in middle school to the youngest ones in high school can be nerve wracking.
Fourteen-year-old J.J. Kaska, of Pittston, agreed.
“I don’t like that,” he said with a laugh.
Despite the new challenges that lie ahead, Kaska said there is plenty to look forward to once the school year gets underway.
“I look forward to just being here and meeting some new people,” he said.
As Haas looked at the faces of new students in the auditorium and wandering through the halls to find their classes, he could sense the thoughts and emotions running through their minds.
“I saw everything,” he said. “I saw excitement, anxiety, and it gets tough for kids to say when the summer’s ending that they’re excited to come back to school, but this is one of my favorite times of year. It’s like Christmas morning to me, seeing the kids walk in on the first day of school. It’s exciting, and whether they tell you they’re excited or not, they are. They want to know their classes, they want to see their friends, they want to meet their teachers and know what activities are out there in the school. I think it’s a great time of year for parents, teachers and our entire school district.”