"What stairs can we use?” “Is there a photography club?” “Is the G wing haunted?”
These are just some of the questions raised by the freshmen in Mike Sollitto’s social studies class at Warwick Vets yesterday, the first day of school.
For the freshmen at the high school, the first day, when they have the entire facility to themselves, was their time to learn the rules – fast.
Yesterday morning, Mr. Sollitto didn’t teach a scrap of history. Instead, he outlined the general best of high school practices to his students. By following a few simple tips and tricks as suggested by both himself and Vets alumni, Sollitto ensured the students would be successful during their years at the school.
Using a Smart Board, Sollitto showed the students slides with phrases like, “Follow the Vets Way.”
He told students to be on time, not to skip school and to be respectful.
“Teachers aren’t the enemy,” he said.
Sollitto himself is no stranger to the ways of Vets; he’s been a teacher there for 11 years, and graduated from the school in 1995. He told his students to have pride in their school.
“I’m the class of ’95 and I’m still proud,” he said. “I’m a Hurricane.”
Sollitto encouraged his students to make the most of their high school experience. He told them to work hard, and get good grades, to make good choices and maintain good friendships.
“Don’t rush into relationships,” he said, gesturing to a slide featuring the same advice.
The next slide was a student suggestion: “Don’t act tough, thug or gangsta – This is Warwick!”
The students chuckled.
Sollitto advised his students to “avoid drama,” and said he thinks they should all delete two things: their Facebook and Twitter accounts. None of the students seemed in a rush to do so, but all nodded when asked if they knew they could get into serious trouble for any unsavory things they posted on the social networking sites.
In addition to his dislike of Facebook and Twitter, Sollitto said his pet peeves include whistling and using Styrofoam cups to keep iced Dunkin’ Donuts beverages chilly. But Sollitto said the freshmen had to worry more about the upper classmen’s pet peeves, like freshmen stopping in the middle of the hallway. All of the students tuned in to this, none wanting to get on the bad side of the upper classmen.
“It’s scary,” said freshman Ashley Adamonis yesterday. “Tomorrow all of [the] seniors, juniors and sophomores are going to be here.”
But somehow, she thinks she’ll make it through.
“I’ll get used to it,” she said with a smile.
In addition to social suggestions, Sollitto gave his students practical tips, too.
“Keep your work in folders,” said Solitto, who told the class not to toss loose paper into their backpacks, where things can get dog-eared and wrinkled. Solitto said he used folders to stay well organized during his years at Vets.
“I was a nerd in high school, and I was proud of it,” he said.
He encouraged students to also use their agendas, special planners provided to students by the school, to stay organized and on-task.
“This is going to be an exhausting few days,” cautioned Sollitto.
For some students, the first day proved to be an overwhelming, tear-filled experience. The stress of the day got to some, and not just those at the elementary level. But for others, the first day was less daunting.
“It’s exciting,” said Abbigail Maccarone from behind bright purple eyeliner. “You’re getting ready to go into your future. But it’s scary because you’re getting older, and that happens fast.”
Not wanting to waste any time, Maccarone and her classmates immediately popped up from their desks at the tone of the bell. None of them had to be taught what that sound meant.
As the students bustled out of his class, Sollitto took a moment to reflect on the excitement of the first day.
“We have just the freshmen today, so it’s nice to see new faces,” he said. “They’re the future of Vets. It’s a new beginning.”