Reviewing Panther Preview

Susan Aghedo, Copy Editor

Days before another school year begins, incoming freshmen and their parents enter Palmetto’s auditorium. Nervousness, excitement and nonchalance fill the air. After a brief talk from athletic director Steve Batten, he dismisses parents and instructed them to return at noon. The rumbling of drums grows near as cheerleaders file into the auditorium, followed by Palmetto’s marching band. Various administrators including activities director Elizabeth Valero and assistant principal Bridgette Tate-Wyche speak before the Class of 2020 about their next four years. Panther Preview has begun.

“I personally like the interaction, the feel of being comfortable with the teachers because they were so outgoing and they had so much energy that it wasn’t boring,” freshman Starla Santana said. “That was the highlight of today.”
Teacher John Hayduk gives an overview of IPrep, Capstone and the Forensic Investigative Academy to the students in the crowd. Student Government Association officers introduce themselves, and Public Relations officer Marlowe Starling leads the freshmen in connecting with the school through social media. The audience is then broken up into small groups which current Palmetto students lead on tours throughout the school.

“[These freshmen] are in that incoming year so I want to make sure they have the best experience possible at Palmetto and helping with the Panther Preview is the best way to start,” senior Kaylee de Soto said.

The school tour included all the buildings– the Pawvillion, the gym, the library, Panther Square and a pause between at the 900 building and the gym, where Ms. Valero spoke about a new three story building in the works to replace the 100, 300 and 900 buildings, and a new basketball court. The Class of 2020 will be the first to attend class in the building, which will see completion in their senior year. Senior Brooke Ortiz participated in Panther Preview as a freshman and volunteered every year since.     “I love Panther Preview because you get kids and you get to talk to them and entertain them and get them excited for school,” Ortiz said. “Last year, a kid stopped me and said ‘Hey, you were my Panther Preview leader.’ That’s just an amazing thing that… it was such a lasting impression that they remembered me months later.”

Curious freshmen ask a variety of questions to their high school tour guides, from how to know which lunch they have to what high school is like. A game of four corners precedes advice on the effects of high school on middle school friendships. Group leaders remind eager students to join clubs from Photography and Creative Writing to Debate and Alliance on Sept. 14 at the Club Fair.

“It’s going to be a good school because they have a lot of academic opportunities, more than my other school, which is why I came,” Santana said. “Their sports and athletics and a lot of clubs are really interesting. I’m glad they’re versatile.”

Panther Preview also helps parents of incoming freshmen who have questions about things from school buses, lunch, extra credit and the PTSA. Parents returned to the auditorium at noon to listen to a talk given by various administrators and the PTSA while their children ate lunch in Panther Square. They were urged to join the PTSA and donate or volunteer throughout the year.

“I feel like it is going to be different from middle school because there are more people, more things happening, and everything’s a little different, especially since the school’s much bigger,” freshman Ashley-Anne Dean said. “I really think highly of Palmetto because my dad came here.”

While a large chunk of the Preview centered on the auditorium talks and the tour, the PTSA and Tutoring for Tomorrow stationed themselves outside the auditorium. The former sold Palmetto baseball shirts to raise money for the baseball team, while the latter handed out fliers and collected names and contact information of incoming students and parents on a signup sheet for their services.

“The transition to freshman year is difficult,” senior John Gray said, “so we want every student to have access to help in order to ease that transition.”