FALMOUTH- The smell of fresh paint lingered during the welcoming address given by Falmouth High School Principal Joseph V. Driscoll to the school’s newest crop of students Wednesday night.
The work had been finished at 8:30 that morning, and a staff meeting was held soon after. That evening, hundreds of incoming students filed in for freshmen orientation, Mr. Driscoll said.
Just a half-hour before the orientation started, workers finishing up in the auditorium accidentally set off the fire alarm; firefighters were leaving as the majority of the incoming class of 245 arrived.
Building Commissioner Eladio R. Gore has visited the school multiple times in preparation for the beginning of classes Tuesday, and yesterday he was still working with construction crews “on a few loose ends,” including electrical work and generator testing, said Interim Superintendent of Schools Marc P. Dupuis.
Last week, Town Manager Robert L. Whritenour Jr. described the process of ensuring that the renovation of House A was complete for freshman orientation as “a nail-biter,” but Mr. Driscoll said Wednesday that House A was “pretty much complete.” The school’s custodial staff had been working for the past two weeks to move everything over from House B and C to House A, he said.
The school’s construction woes were also on the minds of parents and students at the orientation Wednesday, with some questioning whether the expense of the renovation would take away from elective activities like music and art.
“Are they going to have everything that they need?” asked Margaret Muse of East Falmouth, whose son William will start school Tuesday.
Construction has been ongoing every year that seniors Morgan Zarudski, Emily Moore, and Kate Bailey have attended the high school. And though it has been tough, “you have to make the best of it,” said Kate, who was recruiting freshmen volunteers for the Model United Nations during the activities fair that preceded the orientation.
“The construction takes a lot out of you,” Morgan said as she and Emily manned a table for the Best Buddies program, which funds activities for special needs students and their friends. She added that the construction is “okay if you stay focused, but a lot of people get distracted.”
All three girls recalled being both nervous and excited before their freshman year. “It turned out to be not as bad as I thought,” Kate said.
“It all goes by so quickly,” Morgan said.
After she compared her class schedule to that of her friends, incoming freshman Erin Womboldt said that she was looking forward to “the whole high school experience” and having fun with her friends. “And learning stuff, too,” she added as an afterthought.
Some freshmen were relying on older siblings to help them through the ups and downs of high school.
“She’s going to watch out for her,” Cynthia G. Connolly of Falmouth Heights said of her older daughter Allison, who is a junior, and her younger daughter (and freshman) Emily.
Senior Michael Bouchie of North Falmouth was also excited to have his little sister Sarah enter the school. Michael, who was giving a tour as a member of the National Honor Society, said that his sister seemed to be most looking forward to getting a ride to school with him every day.
He was one of several upperclassmen who volunteered to give tours to incoming students and their parents. As the tour guides led their charges down hallways and up stairways, past both new and portable classrooms, old lockers and “wet paint” signs, some wondered where they had started and where they had ended up. “It just took us an hour to find one room!” said freshman Katie Lebherz of Falmouth.
Another issue that concerned both students and parents was class schedules. Though the schedules were ready in June, Mr. Driscoll said that he was informed Wednesday that some students had not received them until they arrived at orientation. It was one of the “glitches and problems” that will be worked out in the coming weeks, Mr. Driscoll said.
He also urged students and parents to contact him or a guidance counselor directly as problems arise. “We’d much rather solve something and get to it right away,” he said.
After explaining that three of his own children had graduated from the school, Mr. Driscoll encouraged students to pursue the “tremendous” opportunities at the high school. “Whatever you’d like to do, there is someone here who will work with you,” he said.
As Workmen Leave, Freshmen Arrive
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