The Freshman Transition Program, or FTP, pairs senior mentors with classes of freshmen to help aid their transition from middle school to high school. FTP went from in-person to virtual and back again, separated by gender to co-ed. Rank & File members recall their individual FTP experiences from the past few years.
When I went through FTP, things were done slightly differently than they are now. In those days, the classes were separated by gender, and the advice our mentors gave was social as well as academic. Our first session was held at freshman orientation, before the first day of school, where our mentors encouraged us to attend and uphold the school pride that was so prevalent throughout their time in high school. The sessions were also heavy on icebreaker activities, which was helpful. It differed from Kilmer, where students were placed in houses based on their teachers and classes. This process allowed kids to be close with a small group of friends, but didn’t open them up to the rest of the grade. So, when I came to Marshall and that all changed, and AAP classes were cut out, I had an opportunity to meet a lot of new people. In that regard, FTP’s icebreakers were very helpful.
– Senior Theo Schmidt
Three years ago, FTP was in the building, separated by gender, and maskless. Seniors would walk around in FTP shirts signalling it was their job to keep freshmen comfortable. Back when we would have Learn five days a week, this offered a small change in pace on Fridays. I knew some people in my class, which didn’t make me try to meet new people. I don’t think FTP did much in terms of helping me feel more comfortable at Marshall. We played silly games and talked about organizational habits to help us be more prepared, but nothing was memorable. I could never remember my seniors’ names, but I did appreciate that they spent two sessions a week trying to help us. I liked how we had a free space to talk for 45 minutes once a week where we don’t be judged for being freshmen.
– Junior Emma Mobley
My freshman year was all virtual, including FTP. My senior mentors logged in during our Learn period and stared at a group of faceless names. They scanned through slideshows with helpful information about how to transition to high school and survive freshman year. A large majority of the information wasn’t applicable, however, because I had never stepped foot into the building. My senior mentors tried their best, but were unable to teach us our way around the school or create friendships, even though last year was the first co-ed year of FTP. We did a variety of activities and ice-breakers, but participation was rare.
– Sophomore Josie Hamilton
As a freshman this year, FTP can be a source of a lot of stress. The FTP schedule consists of an ice breaker and a scripted, pre-planned lesson. They taught studying tips the day I needed to actually study for a test. I’ve also missed club meetings and auditions on days they were teaching us to be more involved in school extracurriculars. I always try to participate in FTP but when you’re put in a group and no one else talks, it’s hard. While the intentions of FTP are good, I would much rather be able to use the Learn period that upperclassmen have, to access my teachers as deadlines pile up.
– Freshman Rebecca Paz