OGDEN -- Sophomore Joey Humphreys walked into Ogden High School last Wednesday morning wondering how he was going to find his locker and his way between multiple classes in the unfamiliar building.
"I signed up for Sophomore Transition Week, so I could get a better perspective on high school, and see how things were set up," said Joey, 15 and arriving from Mount Ogden Junior High. "I was worried about where to go and how to get there."
By Friday afternoon, Joey knew his route, had made new friends and reconnected with old, and had even learned about school activities he hadn't known existed.
"They have a lot of clubs that seem really fun," he said. "I might look into archery."
Aidan Hueton, 15, was a new arrival from DaVinci Academy.
"I signed up for Sophomore Transition Week to get the lay of the land," she said. "I didn't want to be clueless the first day."
By Friday afternoon, Aidan knew her class route, had made new friends and felt excited about her new school.
"It will probably be confusing the first week, but after that, I will get the hang of it," she said. "I feel pretty good about it, and I'm looking forward to playing volleyball, since I made the team."
Incoming sophomores at Ogden High and Ben Lomond High School who had registered for the orientation program worked on getting to know their new schools, with advice and guidance from incoming seniors.
"I would have liked to know a little bit more about school when I came here," said Kellie Cordova, 17 and a "Tiger Guide" for sophomores at Ogden. "I didn't know there were clubs or so many other opportunities to do things in my sophomore year. I didn't know there were teachers willing to help me. It would have made my whole year a lot easier. That's why I wanted to help be an example and spread the word that Ogden High is a really great place."
Nikki Wardle, a Smaller Learning Community coordinator at Ogden High, began working with 25 students in March to organize the transition week.
"The seniors got leadership training, and they did training through the summer on how to be mentors and representatives of Ogden High," Wardle said. "They learned to be someone the sophomores can look to when they need help."
For the 65 sophomores who registered at Ogden High, the week began with a symbolic photograph.
"We took pictures of them in cap and gown," Wardle said. "We want them to see themselves as succeeding in high school."
The 70 or so participating sophomores at Ben Lomond also got early class of 2016 photos snapped.
"We want them to envision themselves graduating," said Melanie P. Clifford, the Learning Community program coordinator at Ben Lomond. Twenty seniors were selected to be "clan chiefs," in keeping with that school's Scots mascot. Ben Lomond sophomores were challenged to "earn their plaid," and Ogden High sophomores were urged to "earn their stripes" as Tigers.
Both schools started with games intended to help relax the students. Mini classes offered were on cooking, artwork and gaining access to the computer system designed to keep track of students' grades and any incomplete assignments. Administrators talked about school culture, the value of working hard, and school procedures. The seniors, selected for the program based on grade-point averages and recommendations, offered a class at both schools called "How to Survive 10th Grade."
Celestine Torstenson, a Ben Lomond senior and clan chief, said she joined the program to make a difference.
"It was really nice to help other kids," the 17-year-old said. "I know how nerve-racking 10th grade was for me."
Celestine said the younger students seemed nervous when they arrived, but warmed up as the days went on. The sophomores soon were sharing their concerns, asking questions and calming down.
Ben Lomond senior Brian Harris, 17, said his service as clan chief will be something he can list on college and work applications.
"My favorite part was when they started asking questions," Brian said. "It meant they were thinking. I liked being able to help them see that they can be better students if they apply themselves."
Cyndy Riggs, 15 and a new Ben Lomond student from Highland Junior High, said the program met her needs.
"I wanted to feel more comfortable on the first day of school," she said. "I feel much better about high school, and I'm excited to get started."
Joey won't go quite that far.
"I am never excited about school," he said, with a laugh. "But maybe I am a little more excited about going to Ogden High."