HHS Freshman Seminar Aims for Success

Huntington High School's freshman seminar participants were an excited group.

September 2, 2016

A uniquely crafted seminar for a group of freshmen unfolded at Huntington High School late last month. The goal of the annual program is to provide students with tools essential to their transition into the building.

This year’s seminar ran for three days from 8 a.m. to noon. District officials hope participation in the seminar grows in future years. Business teacher Suzie Biagi and guidance counselor Lauren Brunoni led sessions in the five year old program. “We had such a great time getting to know the students this year,” Mrs. Biagi said. “Each day had a theme and the students were enthusiastic participants.”

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Huntington counselor Lauren Brunoni.

“Freshman seminar activities and relationships have played an essential role in helping students make the transition from middle to high school and in helping them to understand how success in high school serves as an important stepping stone toward the same in their post-secondary endeavors,” Superintendent James W. Polansky said. “We are pleased to continue our support of the initiative.”

Seminar topics included everything from getting to know each another, the process of self-assessment, learning styles and how to use them to the best of one’s ability to study skills and time management.

There were discussions on peer pressure, bullying, staying safe, available school resources, “go-to” people, lockers, schedules, goal setting, organizational tips and career exploration, including mock interviews with a focus on a person’s “halo effect.”

Class of 2016 member Jonathan Canas returned to the building to portray the behavior of an undesirable prospective employee during an interview while one of the incoming freshman demonstrated the correct way to carry yourself if you want to get hired.

Participants analyzed their personal learning style and the best way to study based on that style. “Goodie” bags were distributed to students, stuff with school related items. Students gave thought to how they could use the bag’s contents to their advantage. Funded by grant monies, the items will be put to good use.

“Three of our seminar alumni spent the last day with us,” Mrs. Biagi said. “They shared their freshman experiences and their advice and insights.” The teenagers enjoyed meeting fellow incoming freshmen and sharing their anxieties and challenges.

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Huntington teacher Suzie Biagi.

The ninth graders were also interested in hearing about the extracurricular clubs and sports teams available to high school students. Perhaps the best part was hearing from an alum who shared a series of “if I knew then what I know now” segments, including “don’t slack off especially freshman and then senior year; go to extra help; take advantage of the library and the resources available to you throughout the school; these ladies will help you get yourself on a good path; don’t be late; don’t argue, just hand over the phone; have a safe adult you can turn to; get involved in clubs and don’t delay on college applications.”

Mr. Canas and fellow 2016 alum Justin Waite along with current senior Edgar Guevara said they have enjoyed “great experiences” since entering the high school. Each credited the freshman seminar for igniting the positive run with Mr. Canas thanking the faculty members behind the program “for supporting me through many different situations. We know that we are ready for the next step because of it.”

“Mrs. Brunoni and I will meet with the students bi-weekly to discuss issues and support them throughout the year, actually throughout the next four years.” Mrs. Biagi said. “Last year the meetings were well attended and helpful and we look forward to having this new crop of freshmen along with seminar alumni who are now sophomores, juniors and seniors this year.”