Schools begin registration, new Dawgs tour high school
By LYNETTE SOWELL
On Wednesday morning at campuses throughout Copperas Cove, registration began for the 2017-2018 school year.
At Copperas Cove High School, several hundred members of the future class of 2021 gathered for the annual Dawg House Welcome, led by the CCHS Link Crew.
The Link Crew, made up of upperclassmen, once walked the halls as freshmen “newbies” themselves and know what it’s like to enter the larger world of high school.
Senior Ariel Lewis is part of the Link Crew this year, and this is her first time helping guide a small group through the halls of her school.
“I recently realized I want to be a teacher, and I remember teachers who meant a lot to me, and helped me. And I like helping people,” Lewis said. “Freshmen tend to get really scared. I want to show them that it’s not a scary place.
Lewis recalled her own jitters that came with her freshman year.
“I was super-scared, but my Link Crew leader, Selena, she was so sweet. She made it really welcoming,” Lewis said.
Lewis added that she and Selena kept in touch throughout Lewis’ high school years, and the former Link Crew member and now CCHS alum checked in with Lewis, now entering her own senior year.
Freshman Parker Reed traveled through the halls with her group and also spoke excitedly about starting a new year at a new school.
“I was involved in drama and the arts at S.C. Lee, and I’m really looking forward to being here, and getting involved in the Theatre Arts department,” Reed said. She added that she already has her eye on the first big thing for her freshman year, auditioning for the fall musical, “Little Shop of Horrors.”
“I can’t wait,” she said.
On Wednesday, Reed appreciated the chance to get the rundown on the halls at the school, finding the cafeteria and getting the layout of the place and some advice from upperclassmen.
Eric Whitt, who was named CCHS’s Rookie Teacher of the Year for the previous school year, stepped up to lead the Dawg House Welcome for this year.
“The Dawg House Welcome is designed to be our orientation for freshmen. We had a brief assembly this morning in the auditorium to welcome them and introduce them to the administration here at the high school.
They are here to take the freshmen on a campus tour, and play icebreaker games with them, and get to know them, so they have someone who’s not another freshman that they know, that they can come to for help and guidance, that’s also not a teacher, someone they can talk to,” said Whitt. “It’s about finding a way to incorporate them into the school and into the culture of the school, and not just throw them into the deep end with no life jacket on.”
The larger gathering in the auditorium that morning was then divided into small groups led by pairs of upperclassmen who conducted the tours and gave students pointers like, “After the last bell rings, don’t dawdle in the hallway if you need to take a bus. If you take your time, you will get left,” or, “This is the small commons. You only have five minutes between class; we used to have seven, but now it’s five: don’t be tempted to hang out or whatever,” or, “Be sure to use the bathroom with the sign that matches the color of your hall pass – or you will be written up.”
Keeping the groups small helps the students connect, Whitt said.
“We try to keep groups pretty small, 10 to maybe 20 students at the max. We have about 18 groups, around 300 students,” Whitt added. He said the campus is expecting about 550 incoming freshmen this year, when all is said and done.
He said the goal is to give the students multiple opportunities, peer connections to combat some of the “darker sides of high school.”
For some students, the Dawg House Welcome is a follow-up event to the Dawg House Sneak Peak held in the spring, when eighth graders have the chance to visit the high school and see all the different clubs and organizations that will be available to them in high school.