Working with large groups of teenagers is a lot of work.
Now, it's a job Ardmore High School Student Council members appreciate a lot more after organizing and leading their second annual freshman orientation on Wednesday.
"It was like herding cats," said Kristin Benson. "It was hard to get them into it and enthusiastic."
Yet, their work paid off. An unofficial straw poll at the end of the day had the majority of freshmen giving the event a thumbs up.
"This helped me know high school won't be as hard. Between the work and the being with all the other students, high school seemed more confusing," said Taryn Wright. "However, the high school people here are nicer than I thought they'd be."
Instead of going to classes on the first day of school, all 230 freshmen attended the all-day orientation. Orientation included a motivational speaker, icebreaker games, tours of campus and being shown how to work the lockers.
"The locker combination works differently than in middle school, and the schedule is different," said freshman Colton Jones. "I understand it now."
Freshmen were also divided into smaller groups, represented by colors, and assigned Student Council members as mentors.
"The mentors are amazing and funny," Jones said.
The groups freshmen were in will be the same group of students they are with during structured study time. Student Council members who led each group will serve as their mentors and check on them throughout the school year.
"I like it. I wish I had someone my freshmen year to ask questions of and have that support system," Benson said.
So far, the freshmen have already been using their mentors as a needed resource.
"The mentors helped us with questions," said freshman Nick Cox. "They said they'd help us with work and stuff."
Freshmen were given tons of information prepared by the upperclassmen, including 10 tips for surviving AHS.
"I thought it was going to be different because I've never been to the high school, but people here are really nice," said freshman Savannah Tafolla.
The motivational speaker was Marcus Bivins, an attorney and professor at the University of Oklahoma. After calling himself a butterfly now, Bivins then explained the challenge he went through to get to the life he has now. He overcame an abusive stepfather, drug-addicted mother who eventually abandoned him and his brother, childhood hunger and a desire to join a gang.
"The way life looks today can look totally different in the future," Bivins said. "It's awesome on this side of those experiences I had."
A crucial point for him was his freshman year of high school. Instead of joining a gang, he made new friends who encouraged him to earn good grades.
Page 2 of 2 - "You have to look at your friends and say we're going to do this together," Bivins said.
He advised the freshmen that "success is when preparation meets opportunity," and stressed the need to be prepared.
Yet, as much as the freshmen learned, the upperclassmen of the Student Council learned just as much.
"It's hard work, but it's worth it because we hopefully help them out," said Ragen Holt, Student Council president. "It was as organized as we could make it. Adults might have done it easier, but this was a good experience for us to learn."