SHS plans orientation day for incoming freshmen

By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — The incoming freshmen at Sidney High School will begin their high school career with a one-day orientation on the first day of school — Aug. 16.

High School Principal Dr. Brian Powderly told the Sidney City Schools Board of Education that teacher Brett Bickel had approached him on how the freshmen could experience a better “first year” at the high school. He, Bickel, other administrators and teachers met at Perkins for what he thought would be a one hour meeting to discuss how things could be different this year. The meeting turned into three hours and they decided to have an orientation day for the freshmen and transfer students.

“The ninth grade is the most failed grade in America,” said Powderly.

He said there is a connection with the success of students if they are mentored their freshman year of high school.

Powderly said within the first 30 days of the student’s freshman year, administrators can look at the student’s attendance and see signs that they are in danger of not graduating. He also said all freshmen will begin the school year with a clean slate.

“On day one, all freshmen will come to school and the day will be dedicated to helping them find their locker, do the combination and schedule. We want to lessen their degree of anxiety when the other grades are joining them the next day,” said Powderly.

Bickel said freshmen struggle with attendance and discipline at the high school.

“Sixth percent of the discipline programs are freshmen,” said Bickel.

On the first day of school, said teacher Alison Brousseau, all the freshmen will meet in the auditorium. School administrators will welcome the students to the high school. Following opening remarks, the students will be placed in smaller groups and attend eight to 10 breakout sessions. They will tour the school and learn about various high school activities available to them.

During the afternoon, they will go through a mini-session of their schedule so they can get familiar with the high school. The day will conclude with a pep rally and learning the school’s fight song.

“We want to make it a great first day for the students,” said Powderly. “This is the most important year of their lives.”

Powderly said in the future he would like to see the juniors and seniors mentoring the freshmen throughout their first year of high school.

Transfer students will be welcomed at the orientation program also. They will be put in a group together for the orientation.

It’s anticipated there will be between 280 and 295 freshmen attending SHS this year. Each freshman will receive a T-shirt for the program.

Superintendent John Scheu attended his final board of education meeting as the district’s leader Monday night. Board President Bob Smith gave Scheu the opportunity to address the board.

“Forty-six years ago, I started here as a teacher and coach,” said Scheu. “I broke my July 10 contract with the district I was with. I called my superintendent who was on a camping trip with his family. I told him the job was closer to my home in Dayton.

“He called me all kinds of names under the sun,” he said. “But he let me out of my contract and the rest is history.”

Scheu had served the district as assistant principal and principal before leaving it. He returned to the district as superintendent seven years ago.

“I raised my three kids in Sidney and all three are Sidney High School graduates. I’m committed and loyal to the school district,” said Scheu. “I support the board 100 percent in hiring Bob Humble (new superintendent).”

Scheu said the district is in better financial shape than it was when he arrived as superintendent.

“I can’t put the thought out of my mind about running for the school board,” said Scheu.

Smith told Scheu, whose last day as superintendent is July 31, that “we appreciate everything you’ve done for the district.”

The board’s next meeting is Monday, Aug. 20, at 6 p.m. at the board of education office.

By Melanie Speicher

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.