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Rolling Out the Welcome Mat for Freshmen




Students welcome freshmen during Freshman Welcome Day 19.

It’s a day that marks a new beginning for incoming freshmen. It’s a day that welcomes them to high school life. It’s a day that provides unforgettable memories. It’s Freshman Welcome Day 2019.

A lot of excitement, some teary-eyed parents and some mixed emotions flowed along The Piazza on a recent, sweltering Wednesday morning. That’s when upperclassmen and educators rolled out the welcome mat a day before the official start of the school year for the 389 members of the Class of 2023.

Chaplain Fr. Daniel Oschwald described the day in two words – high energy.

Librarian Terri Ingraham added, “I like all the smiles – from  students, parents, educators – it sets the tone for the year.”

As freshmen arrived on campus with their parents, students and educators provided cheers of welcome from both sides of the Piazza. Principal Nancy A. Barkan greeted many vehicles herself, chatting through the window to the student, the parent, or both. Meanwhile, upperclassmen greeted the freshmen as they exited their cars.

 Fr. Daniel Oschwald described the day in two words – high energy.

Band and drum line playing at Freshman Welcome Day 19.

Meanwhile, members of the band and drum line played tunes. Some upperclassmen placed Gibbons magnets on cars, while educators passed out muffins to parents, some of whom were wiping away tears. Other parents videoed the welcoming crowd with their cell phones, and still others smiled and waved.

Freshmen arrived on campus in the morning, attended Mass, ate lunch together, explored the school, received their school-issued laptops, as well as participated in games and activities, including a closing ceremony. As they did that and more, upperclassmen showed them they were cared for and introduced them to the Gibbons spirit.

For the newest members of the school community, Freshman Welcome Day not only helped ease their transition into high school but also ensured they had an excellent start to the school year and their Gibbons journey.

Students handing out magnets for Freshman Welcome Day '19.

Maxwell Burkhart '23 said what he liked most about the day was that "it takes you away from the whole shy experience because everyone is very open to you."  He described the experience as “exciting and passionate.” For his first year at Gibbons, he said he was looking forward to watching and playing sports.

​Sophia Mehok '23, who will be involved in volleyball and with clubs, including FYI, described Freshman Welcome Day as fun and welcoming. “Everyone was so friendly,” she said, adding that “it was a nice, comforting environment to walk into as a freshman.”

Upperclassmen enjoyed the day, too. "I wanted the freshmen to be so excited for the school year ahead and feel at home from the second they were escorted from their cars,” Sophia Jenny ’20, said of her reason to volunteer at Freshman Welcome Day.

Students escorting freshmen from their cars at Freshman Welcome Day 19.

What did parents have to say about the day? “I have never seen anything like this day. It is such a fun atmosphere,” said Teresa Martin, whose daughter Natalie is an incoming freshman. The family recently moved to Raleigh from northern Virginia.

Asked how she felt when she dropped off her daughter, Teresa Martin without hesitation said: “I felt completely comfortable. No worries. I am anticipating …that Natalie will become part of a family here.” She said she anticipates the same for herself.







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