St. Joe Hosts a Modified Freshman Day in the Midst of COVID-19

Senior Lauren Falk leads a small group.

Lauren Stadnyk, Senior Staff Writer

Give me a long S-J-A! St. Joe, in the mission of raising women who will impact the world, kicked off the beginning of the rather bizarre school year with respect and hard work. St. Joe’s annual freshmen day is an event dedicated to welcoming the incoming freshman to their new home for the next four years. The day occurs annually at the beginning of August, led by upperclassmen at St. Joe. Even with COVID-19, students and faculty tried their hardest to make the day special for incoming students. 

This year’s theme was “St. Joe is out of this world,” which incorporated extra-terrestrial creatures and many versions of aliens walking the halls. The volunteers had fun making creative six-foot social distancing sticks and dressing in the theme. Social distancing rules were implemented to keep everyone on campus safe, while still having fun and getting familiar with the school. 

In addition, to minimize the amount of social interaction, only seniors volunteered this year. Each small group was led by two rising seniors, who directed freshmen through the recently renovated St. Joe campus. It was the first St. Joe event arranged with these new guidelines and was successful at constraining the threat of the virus. 

Seniors Ella Kertz and Taylor Polcyn welcome freshmen with signs. (Lauren Stadnyk)

In any other case, the freshmen day event is usually a full-day of activities with a pep rally, an outside dance party, social time with new classmates, and an ice cream truck. However, the goal was still to keep the day as normal as possible, with a couple alterations. 

In order to maintain social distancing, the event was split into two days by alphabetical order. At the beginning of the day, spirited upperclassmen lined the campus with signs to direct the cars. Girls with antennas on their heads and others with space buns waited on the fields to meet the incoming freshman class. Instead of the usual pep rally in the gym, the freshmen were directed to their small groups outside. After faculty introductions and conversations in assigned groups, everyone headed into the building. A scavenger hunt took place in order to show the girls their new high school campus. 

Senior Ella Baer was a small group leader and was excited to be with the girls as they “experience[d] their first real day on campus.”

 “I still remember how special my freshman day was,” Ella said.  “I really enjoyed having a group of freshmen to get to know better because I was in their position three short years ago.” 

The seniors in charge of small groups led the tours down the halls, while also offering them advice about their personal experiences. 

After the scavenger hunt, everyone headed to the gym where the staff team took over and led everyone in cheers. 

Senior Gabbie Noonan, a senior staff member for the event, believed the event was successful, even if it was a bit different with the new COVID rules.

 “Social distancing was prevalent, but the freshmen were able to connect with each other through learning school cheers, talking to one another from a distance, and roaming the new and improved hallways at SJA!” she said. “Seeing new Angels, even in masks, always makes me so happy.”

For the last activity, small group leaders brought their decorated social distancing sticks up to the stage for a contest. After lots of singing, screaming, and laughing, the day had come to an end. Freshmen were dismissed from their spots in the gym, leaving with a goodie bag and a rekindled excitement for school. Back to school can be challenging, especially now with a global pandemic, but St. Joe was able to host a successful orientation event with lots of spirit and excitement for the 2020-2021 school year.