Bel Air High School educators understand the challenges rising 9th graders face as they transition from middle school to high school.  Bel Air Middle School, our feeder school, is only a quarter mile away, but for students, the two buildings are worlds a part.  Many rising 9th graders have visions of high school that have been portrayed in movies, like having a senior shove a freshman in their locker until a kind custodian walks by hours later to let him out.  These visions evoke sleepless nights and stressful days leading up to the first day of high school.  That is why in the summer of 2018 we started our first “summer success sessions”.  This, coupled with our traditional Freshmen Fest, gives rising 9th graders several opportunities to walk the building, meet upperclassmen and staff, and begin to understand the spirit of the school we call Bobcat Nation.

Using feedback from the 2018 summer success sessions, the Peer Assistance and Wellness Support (PAWS) sponsors, Mrs. Deanna Smith and Mrs. Jill Capozzoli, and I developed Roadmap to Success- 2023 (Roadmap 2023).  We, along with PAWS upperclassman, greeted more than 250 incoming freshmen over the five scheduled sessions.

The sessions introduced Rising 9th graders to the three P’s for high school success: Plan, Prioritize, and Persevere. They learned the three P’s through a variety of activities: Scavenger Hunt, Q&A Session with Upperclassmen, 4-Year Course Planning, Weekly Schedule Prioritization, and A Perseverance Discussion.

As part of the Scavenger Hunt, each group had their picture taken with the “Big Cat” (Gregory Komondor- Principal) once they located his office.  Rising 9th graders left each Roadmap 2023 session knowing key parts of the building, understanding the 3 P’s to high school success, and obtaining a ton of Bobcat gear.  When we saw the students again at the Freshmen Fest on August 30th, they were all smiles, feeling confident, as they showed their families the campus and said “Hi” to other freshmen, upperclassman, and staff.