8th Grade Family Night Welcomes Incoming Freshman


Skyla Otto

A student from the class of 2027 signs up for orchestra at the club fair.

Skyla Otto

On Monday evening, March 20th, Bellingham High School’s incoming class of 2027 took the first steps towards starting their journeys as high school students. Designed to help create a smooth transition and a sense of belonging for next year’s freshmen, the 8th grade family night gave them the opportunity to navigate through the 35 clubs and 32 other activities offered, and also gave them an overview of life in high school. This event started off by providing the incoming freshmen a look at each of these activities, where it then transitioned into the performing arts center where staff members and administration talked about success in and after high school.

The club fair featured several clubs including the newly created chess club, volunteer club, environmental club, and peer center outreach club, along with several other sports and activities like cheer, soccer, yearbook, band, and orchestra. To help them find a place of belonging within the school, the club fair gave the new freshman the opportunity to ask questions to club members about these clubs and sign up if interested.

Providing a synopsis of academic life in high school, staff and administration gave a presentation in the performing arts center about success in this area. It included topics like the bell schedule, where to look for help, college credit in high school, and some important future dates for events.

Assistant principals, Chris Carlson and Heather Steele, summarized the current eight-period block schedule, as well as hinting at a change from this year’s daily advisory to a schedule with less frequent advisories, though nothing has been confirmed as official yet. Steele also said how BHS’s eight-period schedule provides many opportunities for high school students to pursue many interests throughout high school. She encouraged all the incoming freshmen to find their interests and place within the school.

Another important topic covered was the many ways new students at BHS can get academic and mental help in the school including the after-school study center; advisory, where students can receive help individually from teachers; the grade level AVID classes; and from counselors Gayle Copenbarger, Melody Wright, Valaree Vandermolen, and Keenan Schoen. With these resources, BHS provides a comprehensive supportive experience through all four years of high school, ensuring everyone can succeed.

Though limited for incoming freshmen, BHS also provides several opportunities for high school credit. Three advanced placement classes can be taken freshman year: AP Environmental Science, AP Psychology, and AP Human Geography. At the end of May, students can take the AP exam administered by The College Board related to the subject taken, and potentially earn college credit if they receive a passing grade. AP Psychology grader for The College Board and AP Psychology teacher at BHS, Kristin O’Malley, encouraged pushing freshmen to take an AP class. Taking these reach classes can allow parents to support their students and help them build study skills early on.

This year’s 8th grade family night is the first of many introductions to high school that the new freshmen will experience over the upcoming months. They will also meet with their high school councilor to build their schedules, have the opportunity to attend sports camps over the summer, and participate in a student orientation August 24th. These all will help them build the confidence and belonging they will carry with them into high school.