Freshmen. There is a reason for this class distinction. This is not meant to be a derogatory term or used to berate them, but to identify them as fresh, new, young men, ready to take on one of the greatest tasks that young men can take on; being Men For Others. This may be a hard pill to swallow for any young man, but we do however, give them one additional day to digest the flavor of this great environment. This test is the freshman orientation.
Everyone remembers their freshman orientation. The uncertainty. The intimidating bleachers. But what you might not remember is the name of that older guy who you talked to for a few minutes about where you were from and what you wanted to do at Jesuit. Odds are, this was your Big Brother, a senior personally assigned to you to help ease you into the Jesuit community and offer you some effective tips for school, activities, and life in general.
On Thursday, August 18, the class of 2020 started off their first day bright and early, at 8:00 AM in the Terry Center. Welcoming the groggy frosh into their first class assembly, the Big Brother Executive Board stood at the doors of the Terry Center, poised with huge smiles and exclaiming “good morning!” and “welcome!”.
The Big Brothers are an integral part of freshman orientation. Led by Mr. Patterson ’08 and Mr. Murphy ’06, the Big Brothers do a lot of noticeable work, but also a lot of the behind-the-scenes work as well. Aside from greeting the freshmen, the Big Brothers help set up the Terry center for mass, guide the freshmen through their class schedules, and stage a round-robin style questionnaire to help break the ice with the class of 2020. They are with the freshmen from start to finish.
Once the freshmen are in the bleachers, they receive one of the best speeches they will hear in their whole time at Jesuit. This is the timeless “The Time Is Now” speech, given by Mr. Earsing. Mr. Murphy recounted his “biggest highlight, something I still remember from my freshman orientation is the first speech, The Time Is Now Speech, first thing you hear.” I also remember this speech, since it became a common saying when one of my classmates would ask “what time is it” and instead of telling him the time, I would reply “the time is now!” This wasn’t always the best response, but it sure does resonate with the freshmen class.
After a few speeches, the freshmen have mass. Aside from a few occasions like the Senior Mass and club oriented prayer services, this mass is special in that it’s only for the freshman class.
Following mass, the freshmen hear some more great speeches from their counselors, Mr. Marr and Mr. Murphy, as well as from Mr. Garrison, and many other important faculty members. Mr. Knize, the Assistant Dean of Student Life, also lays down the ground rules, talking about everything from dress code to representing Jesuit well. “Respect yourself, respect Jesuit” are two key ideals that Mr. Knize makes sure to mention often to freshmen and seniors alike.
When the speeches conclude, the freshmen are given their class schedules and are sent on their way. They aren’t completely on their own though, since their “Big Brothers are always watching.” Big Brothers are posted at key points throughout the school just in case a freshman needs help finding his class or is unsure which part of the school corresponds to their room number.
Once they find their classes they come back to the Terry Center to meet with a bunch of their Senior Big Brothers. None of the freshmen know who their Big Brother will be and none of the Seniors know who their Little Brother will be. During a an “ice breaker” activity in which the freshmen forms a large circle around the small circle of seniors, the seniors ask the freshmen in their groups specific questions and then rotate to the next couple of freshmen, eventually meeting every freshman in their circle.
Once this concludes, the freshmen are assigned to a senior who will be their Big Brother throughout the course of their freshman year. Mr. Murphy added that “having a senior in there, there’s a leader in the school telling you it’s ok to ask questions,” which he thinks “is a very powerful aspect of orientation.” The Big Brothers exchange information with their Little Brothers in order to keep them updated on things like football games and freshman mixers, key social outings that help the class of 2020 integrate into the larger Jesuit community, as well as meet other students from Ursuline, Hockaday, and many other schools.
After they meet their Big Brothers, the freshmen enjoy the liberty to check out the activities fair. The activities fair is one of the most important moments of freshman orientation. This is some of the freshmen’s first experience with the vast organizations and clubs of Jesuit. In previous years, the fair has been bound to the cafeteria, each group squeezing in to get a spot to showcase their specific organization of club. Specific to this year, the fair was spread out into the Xavier Mall area and into the Terry Center as well. Mr. Murphy added that this was “the biggest year for our activities fair.” This allowed for over 30 clubs and all of the varsity sports to be open to the curious eyes of the freshman.
Every club has their own way of attracting potential freshmen members, and this year was no exception. For some, this means a large bowl of candy to waive in their faces, for others, this means recruiting attractive girls involved in their specific activity, like theatre and cheer-leading, to lure in the unsuspecting frosh. I was tempted by the cheer-leading squad my freshman year, (most people don’t realize that male cheer-leading is an option), taking the informative pamphlet and talking to the pretty girls representing the organization.
Large clubs and teams usually have better spots, like the debate team, who had the whole foyer of the Terry Center all to themselves, perfect for presenting their case to the class of 2020.
Another notable club, The Roundup, tempted the potential future freshman writers with stylish merchandise, ranging from socks, to caps, to ties, to lapel pins. Of course, the almighty robotics team had one of their award winning robots set up to perform human-like tasks, like throwing a ball through a hoop or stacking blocks, so as a result, a large number of impressed freshmen gravitated to the animatronic awesomeness.
Sam Stewart ’20 shared his surprise about the activities fair: “I came in thinking that a senior usually wouldn’t even talk to a freshman, but knowing Seniors who were asking me to join their clubs was cool.” Sam later went on to say that he was glad to attend the activities fair since “it was great to go there and see what I could be a part of.”
After the activities fair the freshmen load back into the bleachers to learn about the excitement of the football games and how the band plays a crucial role. Mr. Donovan Putnam explains to the freshmen the assorted cheers associated with different drum cadences.
“This half will yell GO and this half will yell RANGERS,” exclaimed Mr. Putnam, whilst keeping the band in tempo with his trusty pal and fellow band director, Mr. Zane Crownover. This spirit lesson provides another chance to showcase the band, the only organization that gets to see girls every day, to the freshmen. After this the freshmen end their sort-of first day with the anticipation of their actual first day of school as freshmen, Friday August 19.
Most freshmen can look back on this day with fond memories and positive advice that they took away from it. Liam Leahy ’20 recounted, “I liked the freshman orientation because it was amazing seeing everything,” and continued that “it’s when you first get a peek of how awesome Jesuit is going to be.” For many students, this is the first time they’ve met many of their classmates, which lead Liam to say, “Something that I also thought was great was the variety of students I got a chance to see attending.” Liam further elaborated on the sundry of students saying, “There were so many people from all over Texas with such a diverse group of people it didn’t seem like it would be hard to find where I fit in.”
Freshmen orientation is about welcoming our new freshmen brothers into the amazing community that is Jesuit. I hope everyone befriends our new brothers and I have one tip for the class of 2020: don’t go in the Senior Courtyard.
Photography by David Horton ’18 and Joe Summers ’17