Students and Staff discuss what it’s like to be a new student at BRFHS

Throughout the school year, new students arrive at Black River Falls High School. The school is quick to welcome them and introduce them to the new environment and community.

“I have lived in California, North Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana, and Okinawa, and then I moved here about two years ago,” said senior Xander Folkedahl.

The school also offers other options for new students to come and see the school. A common example of this could be foreign exchange programs, which were halted for an extended period of time due to the pandemic.

“I came here through a foreign exchange program,” said Maria De La Guardia Yanez, a foreign exchange student from Spain.

Others, like Maria, are here through a program. There are also other reasons why students choose to come to this school.

“My dad was in the military for 20 years and we decided to retire here. We chose Black River Falls so we can be close to family because his hometown is nearby,” said Folkedahl.

Xander moved here his sophomore year, but it was interrupted by COVID after only one day of school.

“So…pre-COVID, we always had a new student luncheon where students who started the year with us would come down to the library and all meet together over ‘pizza’ to try and introduce new students to others at our school,” said Leadholm.

Due to COVID, this hasn’t been done at the school since the Fall of 2019, but they have high hopes of starting it up again. COVID has caused problems for many people and has gotten in the way of many things.

“The transition here was okay. COVID hit, so we were there for one day and then we pretty much had to go into quarantine,” said Folkedahl.

Xander was upset because it affected his personal, social and academic life. This being said, the school has other methods of making new students feel more comfortable in the school.

“When a new student comes to our school, we try to find a person from their ‘advising’ family to be their advocate or mentor for the first week,” said Leadholm.

This process is to help the students feel like they fit in and get used to the new environment.

“We ask that person to try their best to invite the new person to eat with them, and to assist them with their schedule, etc.,” said Leadholm.

These ‘families’ are supposed to make them feel more welcomed.

“Most importantly, we email the teachers (in their schedule) sharing that this student is new from X school, and to try and encourage them to join a club or activity,” said Leadholm.

If a student comes in the middle of the school year, they have to worry about staying caught up and fitting in in their classes, so knowing their teacher ahead of time may make them feel more at ease.

“We requested that they give us a list of clubs/athletics that they may want to join and then we emailed the advisor/coach to have them seek out this new student so they wouldn’t get missed,” said Leadholm.

The school advises new students to join and try new things to see if they find anything they like and are interested in.

“Finally, our best advice for new students is to try and join SOMETHING.  It doesn’t matter if it is a club, sport, music, event….but the best way to meet people is to join something,” said Leadholm.

Getting more involved in school is a big factor in making new friends and getting adjusted easier.

“With Lunch and Learn, we hope to build more connections with students and for new students this is another great way to meet friends who have similar interests,” said Leadholm.