Freshman “Day of Bonding” Helps Counselors And Freshmen

Counselor, Mark Isiofia giving his new group, Casmir Finley instructions on how to do the Looking Glass activity.

Counselor, Mark Isiofia giving his new group, Casmir Finley instructions on how to do the “Looking Glass” activity.

Video Shot by Ian Garay; Edited by Alfahtee Huey

Members of the Class of 2017 completed their first successful “Day of Bonding’ on September 10th, establishing and building relationships with their newly acquainted counselors and group mates.

The event was was conducted and created by Freshman Leader Daniel White and his team of student counselors. Director of Student Life Glenn Cassidy worked extensively with Daniel to structure the event around a single goal: strengthening relationships between the new counselors and bashful freshmen.

“This day was very important to the freshmen because of the chance it gave them to rebuild and rekindle the bonds they had with their counselors during the summer phase,” Daniel said. “It can create difficulties later on in the year if the counselors are trying to guide freshmen they don’t know.”

The inspiration for the day came from Daniel’s past experiences as a student counselor. He noted that in previous years, the “draft” had created communicative barriers between him and the eight freshmen he had led. “The concept of ripping freshmen apart after a month of meaningful bonding will present counselors with a challenge when they attempt to establish substantial relationships,” Daniel said. “It will force them to create an entirely new group dynamic in the very short time that they have.”

Most counselors, Daniel says, do their best when faced with such a predicament. Their attempts to connect with the freshmen produce mixed results. At best, a few freshmen in each group become accustomed to conversing freely with their counselor.

However, first-year counselor Mark Isiofia has taken a direct approach towards the freshmen he will be guiding this year, an effort that he says will be more effective due to the “Day of Bonding.” “What we did today is going to help me understand them more,” Mark said. “It gets them to open up to each other and I can be involved in that.”

Mark was one of the many student counselors who formed deep relationships with the freshmen in his group during the summer phase. After the counselors had convened and drafted different freshmen permanently, he realized how important the relationships had been. “I thought I was mentally prepared for the change, but after I had the first meeting with the new group, I realized I was in for a whole new week of orientation,” he said.

Through the instructions of counselors like Mark, freshmen opened up to each other on the “Day of Bonding” by completing the “Looking Glass” activity. According to freshman Ibn Buie, the activity encouraged members of the same group to reflect on how they wanted people to see them. In Ibn’s group, the activity helped him get a glimpse of how he should approach his group mates and counselor in the future. “I didn’t want to leave my color group after summer phase, but this activity made me realize how exciting it is to meet new people and expand the  relationships I have with the other kids in my grade,” he said.

Daniel White initially feared the outcome of the “Day of the Bonding” after acknowledging that the “organization was slapdash.” Nonetheless, he was satisfied with what this day yielded. “This was our first shot at rebuilding and rekindling relationships between counselors and freshmen after the summer phase,” he said. “It will be important to build on these results and continue the conversation so that the freshmen have a successful high school career.”