Jessica Gardner had the incoming ninth-grade students line up in two lines in the Brookfield High School hallway. The students faced each other and a strip of crepe paper taped to the floor marked a dividing line.
As part of Freshman Bridge Day on Aug. 19, Gardner, who teaches English, asked them questions, such as, Who has a brother? A sister? A dog? Are you nervous about your freshman year? Do you have a cellphone? Have you ever been to Cedar Point?
When she asked who had seen the movie “Avengers: End Game,” and only a handful of students stepped forward, she seemed distressed.
“Go see it,” she said. “It’s wonderful. I want to talk about in class.”
Gardner said she wanted to participate in Freshman Bridge Day “to get to know the kids, to build rapport with them before we start the year.”
Even though the high school is only a hallway away from the middle school, it is a big change, one that some students have difficulty with, she said.
Freshman Bridge Day was created a year ago to help with that transition, said Principal Kristen Foster. The students learned about the expectations they will face, tips for developing good study skills, what kinds of classes they will be taking and what extracurricular activities are available, and underwent required vision and hearing tests from school nurse Rhonda Zebroski.
About 75 of the 85-member class attended, Foster
James Haywood, who teaches Spanish, financial literacy and entrepreneurship, said he hopes the opening of school will go more smoothly because he and his students will have at least met once and they will understand what he will expect of them.
“They’re coming into a new environment,” he said.
Freshman Destiney Pickard said she learned, “You have to be more organized. You have to stay in place and not mess up about certain things.”
Brookfield Police Cpl. Ron Mann talked a lot about messing up and the consequences for doing so. He focused on cellphone use and making good decisions.
The students received their schedules, were assigned lockers, participated in a scavenger hunt and spent time with senior mentors, who chaperoned the students to different activities and will be available to the freshmen throughout the year.
“It was helpful,” freshman Evan Sanford said of Freshman Bridge Day. “It taught us about the high school teachers and how to get around the high school.”