(originally published 8/11/16 on thecspn.com)
For most freshmen, the school year starts when they get on the school bus for the first time. But at Mason High School, the beginning of the year is celebrated in a more unconventional way. For over a decade now, each class has experienced a spirit party officially welcoming them to high school. On August 9, the class of 2020 received the invite.
Cheering in the stands and meeting their peers, this year’s incoming freshmen got a taste of life at MHS. Throughout the spirit party they learned to break out of their shells and enjoy themselves and the four years they would spend at the high school.
Cheering along side of them was a select group of juniors and seniors, the SIBS, (students involving and benefiting students). Jeff Schlaeger, SIBS advisor, said countless hours go into making the spirit party a success.
“Each year we go through and fine-tune things,” Schlaeger said. “We try and improve things every year so that it all runs smoothly. We start communicating about this day as early as February.”
Despite the time it takes, the event is worth the effort according to junior SIBS board member Kevin Morrissey.
“I didn’t really have a good experience in middle school,” Morrissey said. “Having the SIBS there to support me and cheer me on made all the difference, so I’m excited to do that for others. I just want them to see that this is a really great school, and that they have people there to cheer them on and support them.”
Senior Ellie Harpen, who is on the board with Morrissey, has been a SIB for two years now. She says this is one of her favorite events to do, and that it’s a great experience to be behind the scenes.
“It’s super fun for everybody to come, and there is a big difference between the kids’ attitudes at the beginning and the end,” Harpen said. “They just start to let loose, and see that they can be themselves in high school, and I hope that’s something they take with them.”
Freshman Sarah Lux, along with approximately seven hundred of her peers, spent the entire day working on team-building exercises and getting excited for the upcoming school year.
“Going in, I was worried about whether or not I’d know people,” Lux said. “I just wasn’t sure whether I would be able to make friends, or get to class on time, or anything like that. After this, I feel so much more prepared for high school.”
Despite her initial hesitancy, Lux said the SIBS helped make her more comfortable at the event.
“Having the SIBS there just took it to a whole new level,” Lux said. “They really made the day so much better, and when I get to their age I might want to do the same.”
Freshman Sean Rice, shared some of the same thoughts as Lux. He too found the experience to be a lot of fun, as well as very rewarding, attributing motivational speaker Chris Bowers to a big part of his learning.
“I really saw for myself that you can just be yourself in high school,” Rice said. “He showed me that.”