In 1998, The Daily Astorian adopted the Class of 2008 at John Jacob Astor Elementary School as part of a project following the youth through graduation. These students are now freshmen at Astoria High School.
Class of 2008 makes the big step into high school"Watch those doors because you'll be sprayed with fart spray," Junior Shanah Lindquist warned the freshmen as they passed by the education wing.
She cautioned them to get Ms. Marsch for P.E., because she doesn't make students run as much, and that the library's theft censors won't beep if students lift the books over their heads. The woods off school property are where some students do "inappropriate things," and failures to put trash in the garbage can result in schoolwide assemblies on cleanliness.
The leadership class' school tour was, perhaps, a bit broader in scope than school administrators bargained for, but was a frank introduction to life at Astoria High.
Darren Carlson, left, and Ricky Welty, both freshmen, and Megan Lawrence, a sophomore new to Astoria, take a tour of the school.
LORI ASSA-Daily AstorianTuesday was orientation day for freshmen and the Class of 2008, a group of students The Daily Astorian has been following since they were third-graders at John Jacob Astor Elementary.
"It's just to welcome the freshmen and new students so it's not so scary to be here, and give them a chance to ask questions and get familiar," said orientation coordinator Jenni Newton.
Class of 2008 student Eddy Duret liked the idea of orientation - so that incoming students aren't scared. But he was really anxious for the year to get under way.
"I'm excited to start, because it's funner than middle school," he said. "You have more freedom and more kids. We have foreign-exchange students from Germany, Thailand, Japan and England."
School of RockThe day began with an introduction from class officers. Then freshmen headed to their tutorials where they signed purple and gold quilt squares, which will be sewn together and hung in the school.
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Class of 2008 student Nicole Sully, left, and Amber Blaylock sing the Astoria Alma Mater. "I met all my teachers, and I'm really happy with who I have," says Sully. The leadership class - decked out in rock and roll T-shirts, fishnet stockings and metal to go with their "School of Rock" theme - imparted kernels of AHS wisdom while they gave everyone the grand tour.
"Tomorrow when all the seniors are in their class I'm going to walk in, sit down and go where am I at?" said Class of 2008 student Anthony Kustura, not at all concerned.
Former Astor student Lucy Mihajlich was also muddled.
"It's not their fault," she said after the tour. "I have a poor sense of direction."
Freshmen then had the opportunity to find all their classes during a shortened bell schedule, allowing them to meet teachers for the first time.
One of the highlights was the first pep assembly of the year, where teachers and freshmen competed against each other in a wheelbarrow race and more inventive games. The freshman managed to beat the teachers in a contest wherein rivals buried their faces in a tub of Jell-O and picked out Mr. Potatohead pieces with their mouths.
The teachers, however, were able to get more Cheetos stuck to a faculty member's peanut butter-covered face. The teachers also won a tug-of-war, despite the best efforts of Class of 2008 students Ricky Welty and Bridget Nurding and their teammates. After a hearty singing of the alma mater, students met their parents for a barbecue.
PondingWith the orientation completed, Class of 2008 student Nicole Sully said she could enter the doors of Astoria High School worry-free - except for the small, sparkling pool of water in the courtyard.
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In front of a crowd of peers, Chris Edwards smiles as peanut butter is smeared on his face by fellow freshman Alesia McDonald. The pair get ready to compete against teachers to see who can throw and stick the most cheetos onto the gooey faces. Despite the teachers winning 16 to 5, Edwards says the game was the highlight of his first day. "The only thing I'm nervous about is that," she said, pointing as the water lapped against the edge.
Hazing is strictly prohibited at the high school, but it didn't stop the rumor that "getting bushed" in the blackberries has turned into "getting ponded" for this year's crop of freshmen.
Still, the underlying threat of a dunking didn't dampen Sully's enthusiasm.
Her hair is cut and colored in a new style and she's back around all her friends. She's stoked about taking integrated science and acting in the school's production of "Fame."
"Here you can stand out, be yourself, and they can't give you any trouble about it," she said. "I think my next four years of high school are going to be the best."