Grandview Heights middle schoolers attend classes in a building next to the high school -- but the transition to ninth grade still can be daunting.

To help ensure a smooth start to those students' final years of secondary school, an orientation for members of the class of 2021 will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8, at Grandview Heights High School, 1587 W. Third Ave.

School begins Aug. 16.

"A lot of our younger students have been inside our high school, especially with the middle school right next door," high school guidance counselor Bryan Stork said, "but it's still a big step beginning high school, with a new schedule and a new building to navigate. We don't want the students on the first day of school having three minutes between classes to figure out where they need to go next for class."

During the orientation, incoming freshmen will receive their schedules and locker assignments, tour the building, experience a mock schedule, meet their teachers and interact with older students.

"We'll have upperclassmen come and serve as tour guides for the freshmen students," Stork said. "I think sometimes it's easier for the younger students to ask certain questions of someone who's more of a peer than to a teacher or guidance counselor. It also makes it more comfortable for them on the first day of school."

During the orientation, freshmen will receive a student planner and a Chromebook laptop computer as part of the high school's 1:1 initiative, which assigns a laptop for each student's use, both at school and home.

"We also give them a Bobcat T-shirt with a design that is created especially for the class of 2021," Stork said. "It's something that's unique to their class and helps define their class as a unit for their four years in high school."

For the past three years, Stork has made an effort to schedule a meeting with every incoming freshman and his or her family during the summer.

"It's a chance for students or their parents to have an opportunity to ask specific questions in a more informal setting about services or activities that may be helpful for the student," he said.

Stork said the individual meetings are as helpful for him as they are for the students and families.

"I'm a firm believer in building relationships," he said. "These are short meetings, maybe 30 minutes or so, but they give me a chance to get to know the students a little bit, ask them what they like about school, how they see themselves as high school students.

"I can find out what their interests are and maybe help guide them to school clubs or activities they might not know about," Stork said.

"It takes some effort to find a time during the summer that fits every student and their family's schedule," he said, "but I find it's worth the effort for me and the students."

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