Young Del Norters get a first look at next phase of academic life

As she waited for freshman orientation to start Friday, Misty Carter thought of the nine years she spent at Redwood School.

"I'd like to go back for one more year, but this has got to happen," she said as she tried to find Del Norte High School's multipurpose room.

Misty is the second child in her family to start high school. Her older sister Shonean graduated from Del Norte High last year and is starting her freshman year at Butte Community College, majoring in child development.

Misty's younger brother, Landon, is entering kindergarten at Mary Peacock Elementary School, their mother, Sheila Balent, said.

"I'm just really proud of them," she said, encouraging her middle child and her oldest to have fun with the new chapter of their lives.

Del Norte High's new principal, Randy Fugate, welcomed the Class of 2018 to its new school. He introduced his fellow administrators, vice principals Leslie Machado and Randy Hatfield andencouraged the new students to talk to teachers, talk to peers and get involved.

"I'm looking at Raiders or Cougars or Wildcats, but now we're all Warriors this year," he said. "This is a fresh start. We don't know you, we don't know what kind of student you were or were not and we're fine with that because you're all brand new for us. You don't carry any of your baggage. You get to start over and reset."

With 270 additional students coming through its doors on Tuesday, Del Norte High is welcoming its largest freshman class in the last three to four years, Fugate said. Del Norte High's enrollment for the 2014andndash;15 school year is expected to be about 950. Factoring in teachers and other staff members, Fugate expects his school to house nearly 1,000 people this year.

"There are a lot of bodies in one place," he said as he guided students and parents through the maze of corridors. "I've heard good reports about the eighth-graders coming in. I'm pretty excited."

With the start of a new year comes other changes. One new rule that freshmen may be bummed about is ninth-grade students can no longer go off campus during lunch.

"We're asking parents to be aware of it, and teachers are aware of it," Fugate said.

Sophomores, juniors and seniors are still allowed to leave school during lunch.

While they understood that their kids will be disappointed, parents Jody May and Sherri Ferrier said they're comfortable with the closed campus rule for freshmen.

"For parents it's definitely a plus," May said. "That's a little too much freedom."

But after also spending nine years at Redwood School, May said her son Miller Wallace is ready to expand his horizons. She said he's looking forward to mingling with students from Crescent Elk and Smith River schools.

"He's looking forward to making new friends here," May said. "After that many years at Redwood, he's ready for more freedom."

Ferrier, who brought her son Tanner Richcreek and niece Hannah Bacon to freshman orientation, said both kids are looking forward to being involved in Del Norte High's sports. But Ferrier, whose oldest child graduated last year, said she'll remind her son that getting his graduation requirements done early is important.

"I've found that (my oldest child's) counselor provided a lot of help to get him the right classes," she said. "I'm pretty confident. They're great kids. They know a lot of people already."

As he waited for his new students to filter in, Crescent City Councilman Ron Gastineau could only speculate about what his first year as a full-time teacher will be like. As the new 21st Century Skills teacher, he'll get half the freshman class during the first semester and the rest the following semester.

"This is a big career change for me," he said. "But I'm looking forward to it."

In his 21st Century Skills class, Gastineau said the topics he'll be covering include how to be a good digital citizen. He said he'd like to work with the District Attorney's Office and have someone come in and talk about cyberstalking.

Gastineau, who worked with the Youth News Network, said new social network sites are created every day. He said a good assignment might be for his students to keep track of the number of social networks that are out there.

In his Introduction to Mass Media class, Gastineau, who majored in journalism at Humboldt State University, said he'd like to introduce students to reporting and video production.

"I want to make sure their sources aren't just Google and Wikipedia. This weekend I'll probably be in here getting stuff ready. I'm psyched to get the school year going."

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