Erin O’Kane and Marissa AuriemmaChecking out their high school schedules for the first time are incoming Red Bank Regional freshmen Erin O’Kane and Marissa Auriemma, both of Little Silver.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

The first day of school isn’t until this coming Tuesday, September 6 — but on August 24, Red Bank Regional High School welcomed the newest members of its student body: the incoming freshmen who represent the Class of 2020.

The students were greeted by upper classmen student-to-student peer leaders, who directed them around their new high school, assisted them in opening their lockers, answered their questions and created a friendly atmosphere with “ice-breaker” activities. Each member of the Class of 2020 was gifted with their first official RBR t-shirt, courtesy of the RBR BUC Backer Foundation. They also received their student I.D., as well as an email account for their student portal.

Incoming freshman Erin O’Kane from Little Silver felt the preview day for freshmen was most helpful, stating that “I learned where my classes were from upper classmen and got the scoop on my classes and my teachers. It was helpful to get a feel for the school.”

The students are the 10th class of the RBR Freshman Academy, a school-within-the-school created to demystify the large-school building environment. Within this concept, students are heterogeneously assigned to three smaller houses, where they share the same teachers, guidance counselor and core classes for most of the day. Most importantly, their teachers and counselor have a common planning period to coordinate cross-curricular learning themes and keep abreast of student progress. This prevents students from falling through the cracks, by expediently identifying and addressing concerns.

Freshman Academy Supervisor Suzanne Keller described what the students should expect in this their first year at a comprehensive high school. She also shared advice gathered from former freshmen, including, “get enough sleep” and not to hesitate to ask for help. She explained how RBR offers many forms of support including after school tutoring with teachers, lunchtime tutoring by peers and even, community tutoring in Red Bank. The latter, operated by RBR’s School Based Youth Services Program The SOURCE (also supervised by Ms. Keller), will have two community locations this year, and will even provide dinner for the students.

Representatives from various school activities manned displays and exhibits that detailed the championship CyberPatriot team, as well as History, Math and Newspaper clubs. The Visual and Performing Arts Academy invited students to perform karaoke at the chorus table, play guitar and even a giant harp, which is available for study at the high school.

RBR’s Principal Risa Clay told the students and their parents (who later joined their children for an information session followed by a welcoming barbecue) that “This was the biggest freshmen class she ever had at RBR, with 345 enrolled.”

She added, “If you ever have any questions or concerns, please don’t be afraid to come to me.”  She then shared her prolific twitter account “@principalclay” where the most up-to-date information on RBR is always posted.

In his first year at the school district, RBR Superintendent Lou Moore addressed the freshmen. He empathized with the fear of beginning someplace new, but told them to, “fear not and embrace this year.” He reminded the students “you are in charge now, adding, “Think about that in terms of work and how you want to conduct yourselves as a citizen of the school,”

Moore then received great applause when he stated, “I think this is the best high school in New Jersey. No other high school has what you have. The depth of programs, the quality of our faculty in dedication and excellence and the diversity is extraordinary.”