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New-look first day is a good idea at RHS

It's easy to be intimidated by the first day of high school. For students in Rosemount there's a new, larger building layout to learn. There are new teachers. New classes. New expectations. Add halls filled with older, usually larger upperclassmen and things start to seem more than a little frightening.

That's the idea behind the change RHS has made to its first day of school this year. When classes start Tuesday morning RHS ninth graders will have the hallways to themselves. They'll be able to map out their new class schedules without being shoulder-to-shoulder with 2,000 other students. They'll have a chance to feel at home, in other words, before they meet all of their new roommates.

Ninth graders will eat lunch with the rest of their class for the only time in their high school career.

We think it's a great idea. As RHS principal John Wollersheim pointed out, research has shown ninth grade is often crucial in determining how a student performs in high school. Get off to a bad start, and sometimes things can go downhill quickly. But let students feel like they're part of something and the chances of success are much better.

The new first day at RHS is good in other ways, too. By taking care of student photos and bus safety drills on a day that is typically more about making introductions than learning lessons, the school will cut out distractions that would otherwise disrupt classes a few days into the new year.

It's a question of making the best possible use of class time.

Rosemount isn't the first school to put such a program into effect. Eagan High School has gotten good responses to a similar effort, and Farmington High School dedicates its entire first day to welcoming new students.

We're happy to see the program come to RHS. We think it will help make a good school even better.