Sienna Robertson, Staff Writer
October 20, 2023
It’s the eve of Nobles orientation, which means new beginnings. Whether a student is entering the doors to the main campus for their first or hundredth time, the first day is a frightening one. The new school year is officially upon the Noble and Greenough School. Orientation looked drastically different for each of the different classes, and looking at the experience with hindsight allows students to decipher what orientation was all about.
In their retreat, seniors shared personal stories from their lived experiences. This activity was “very vulnerable,” Delaney Benevides (Class I) said. “[I was] very surprised to see that people were sharing things about them I’d never heard before.” The retreat also made lasting changes in students’ sentiments toward each other. “I heard some intimate, depressing, really sad stories that gave me a lot of empathy for other people,” Benevides said. She added that she is very grateful for the retreat’s ability to strengthen the bond between seniors. “[The retreat] really made a connection between different parts [of the grade],” she says.
Freshmen will recall interactions with new people, faculty, and community members, perhaps eliciting anxiety or nervousness. “This is a new school and a new class,” Class IV Dean Nora Dowley-Liebowitz said. The same can be said for freshmen who went to Pratt Middle School. “There are 62 new people that are going to mix up your social groups; it’s going to mix up your experience. The Upper School is not the Middle School, so there are new rules, new systems,” she said.
As students continue to visualize their orientation experience, they may start to cringe at the embarrassing fun facts that they told everyone in their group during the retreat icebreakers. This little step in orientation is actually a bigger necessity than it seems to be. “[Icebreakers are] always the most painful part, but you can’t jump into a full day of programming with a group of 125 new people, and not learn some names,” Dowley-Liebowitz said. The ebb and flow of the class dynamic begins at orientation, and getting to know who students will be spending the rest of their high school career with is essential to class camaraderie.
Students can remember that day two of orientation included the “Top Six Rules” presentation by this year’s class deans. According to Abigail Afagla (Class IV), the directness of the administration during this announcement was a positive thing. “It will make sure that when new kids come in, they know what they’re allowed to do and what they’re not allowed to do,” Afagla said. Chris Yoo (Class IV), being a new freshman himself, agrees with Afagla. “It’s very important to establish rules, especially for people that are new to the school because you can’t really enforce those rules if you don’t talk to them,” he said. Afagla and Yoo are in line with the administration’s idea of how this presentation was meant to be perceived. “‘The Six Rules represent what [administration’s] expectations are for the year, and I think that having a community that is hearing the same message is important,” said Dean of Student Engagement Mark Spence. Along with Spence, Dowley-Liebowitz said, “You’ve got access to so much opportunity and privilege but you also have to be a community member, and being a community member means that you engage in and understand that there’s a set of expectations that we believe in.”
Nobles recognizes that orientation can always be better, whether that means more snacks for the freshman or a tweak in the activity lineups. The administration is welcoming suggestions from the community about how they can improve orientation for students. “If people have suggestions or want to help, I’d be very open to it,” Dowley-Liebowitz said.
With all of the corny icebreaker sessions out of the way, have a fantastic year, Nobles!
(Photo Credits: Ben Heider)