Freshman connection goes online

Incoming student orientation becomes virtual due to COVID-19

Counselor Brian Coleman and teacher David Gilmer recreated freshman connection virtually in order to avoid in-person gatherings. 

Due to the social nature of the two-week orientation, freshman connection has historically been in-person. This year, however, freshmen had to connect via social distancing. 

“It’s been nice because I’ve been able to see other kids my age,” said Nora Wunsch ‘24.

Teachers and Eagle Leaders, or mentors, say they are trying to do the best they can to virtually simulate as close to a normal freshman connection as possible. 

“We do Google assignments that teachers post, talk about what we have watched or done, and have a little conversation with our Eagle Leader[s],” said Wunsch.

Although the virtual platform allows for a variety of activities, Eagle Leaders say they are still finding challenges due to everything being online.  

“When I was a volunteer last year, I had a better connection and first impression with my mentees than I did with virtual freshman connection,” said Charleen Necor ‘21. “It was really hard to do some team-building exercises and get [mentees] to know each other and talk more because it was a weird environment to be around.”

 Incoming freshmen say it is more difficult to get a sense of Jones and the community since the event is online instead of in-person. 

“It was hard to get [mentees] to actively participate and engage in the activities that we were doing, and it was obviously harder for them to get a good sense of what the school community is and what Jones looks like physically,” said Necor. “A big part of freshman connection is getting to meet teachers and staff, [thereby] get[ting] a sense of the incoming class in general.”

Despite the challenges, some freshmen say they are still glad to have had freshman connection. 

“Honestly, I think freshman connection was the best it could have been,” said Will Shachar ‘24. “It helped you realize what the year [is] going to be like and who the teachers are going to be – it set the tone for the rest of the year.”