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Finding your way around high school...

Almost all high schools have at least one orientation day prior to new students starting their first year. In fact, some schools I know of actually have several scheduled orientation sessions so the students have a few opportunities to get to know the school and other students. Most schools also offer parent and student information evenings leading up to the start of high school. They’re a great idea, covering timetables, subjects, homework and other school information. If you happen to miss an orientation session, make sure you ask mum or dad to grab information from the school or have it posted to your home.

During orientation days, you will most likely meet your teachers and have a tour of the school grounds to familiarise yourself with where your classes will be held and what facilities are available. You might also receive useful information on these days about sporting or other groups you could join during high school. You can also find out important transport information and get the lowdown on canteen menus and days of operation.

Year level coordinator, adviser

You most likely get a teacher assigned to your class or year level who is responsible for guiding you during the transitional weeks. They are the one to approach should you have any questions. This person may be known as the Year Level Coordinator, Home Room Teacher or Pastoral Care Teacher. Whatever the title, make sure you identify who your ‘go to’ teacher is so that you can get help when things get a bit confusing or overwhelming.

Finding your way around

You should be given a map of the secondary school at some stage during the orientation process. Make sure you take the time to familiarise yourself with where your main classes are being held. It might also be helpful to use a highlighter pen to show where you need to be for each class. Classrooms are often named by their building block and then classroom number eg: C16 or D2. You’ll soon work out which rooms and buildings you need to be in.

Timetable

During orientation, you should receive a timetable for your different school subjects and teachers. Now, don’t freak out here!

When you first see your timetable with all the different subjects, times and room numbers, it can seem pretty overwhelming, not to mention confusing. But be reassured, that it doesn’t take long before your timetable seems like second nature. Some high schools run their timetables on a two-week cycle, which means that week one is different from week two, and then the process repeats itself again. Other schools run with the same timetable each week. Subjects are usually taught in blocks known commonly as ‘periods’, or lessons, and run for between
40-70 minutes.

Uniform

Most high schools usually have a summer and winter uniform, plus a sports uniform. It’s important to make sure you have all the right parts of your uniform well before you begin the new school year. Sometimes, schools will have a secondhand clothing option and a uniform shop that you can purchase items from. Make sure you get your school shoes early in the school holidays before you begin so that you get to wear them around home a bit.

Transport

Some students use public transport to get to and from their high school — some start using buses for the very first time. If you are using public transport to get to school, it would be a good idea to have a practice run or two during the school holidays. At the very least, you should familiarise yourself with the bus timetable and make an extra copy to keep in your school bag or diary.

Prospectus

Finally, most schools produce a prospectus for the first year of high school. You should be able to pick one up from the school office if you don’t receive one as part of your enrolment package. These booklets provide great information about subjects, teachers, homework, camps, canteen, maps and school phone numbers.

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