The Freshman Experience
As the Academic Dean of Pacifica, I take the responsibility of helping students mature and grow into thriving young men and women with the utmost seriousness. This time in a student’s life matters, because these years are formative ones. We want to help students make the most out of them both academically and spiritually. That is why our motto is teaching students how to think and live well.
The freshman year is a time when students begin to discover who they are in relation to the world around them: a time to take greater responsibility and ownership, a time to incorporate new ways of learning and new habits of being into their daily routine, and a time to establish life-long friendships with teachers and peers. It is not always an easy time, but—when cultivated properly—it provides an experience that can be deeply rewarding and full of joy.
Accordingly, our freshman experience is designed to help bring about opportunities for growth in a safe and supportive environment; opportunities that lead to life-giving, joy-inducing human flourishing. To that end, we have put together a special transitionary program for incoming freshman, we call it The Freshman Experience.
The Freshman Experience Program Elements:
- Summer Transition Class—During the first week of August each year, Pacifica will offer an Incoming Freshman Support class. Course fees are $250 and the meeting time is from 9am-12pm M-F. Topics Covered: How to read and annotate a text, advanced note-taking skills, time management, how to write a thesis and a paper, MLA formatting and works cited for papers, common grammatical errors, common logical fallacies, effective study habits and how to cope with stress and live life to the fullest. The course is aimed at helping incoming students make an easier and more effective transition to high school work. Enroll in the Summer Transition Class here.
- Individual College Counseling Meetings—Our Dean of College Counseling will work with each incoming student and their parents to develop a flexible four-year plan in order to help them navigate Pacifica’s co-curricular program. Regular parent information meetings will also be held, and multiple opportunities for college visits will be made available throughout each year.
- Freshman Faculty Lunch—During the first month of school and quarterly thereafter, the freshman class will meet with the faculty for lunch. This event is intended to further introduce students to faculty in an informal environment, thus easing their transition to the Pacifica classroom.
- Freshman Dinner with School Leadership—During the first month of school, the freshman class will meet the Pacifica administrative team for dinner to further introduce students to the leadership team and Pacifica life.
- New Student Orientation—Every year, we have a two-day orientation process for incoming students. Topics covered: how to use an iPad; how to use the school’s software to manage one’s schedule, check a grade, reference the handbook, post an assignment, and contact teachers and peers; how to purchase textbooks, uniforms and apps; how to sign up for sports, leadership roles, theater and much more.
- Small Groups—Our chapel program consists of small group discipleship meetings on Monday mornings and Wednesday worship services. The small group meetings are coordinated by class and run by faculty. Small groups are a time to share joys and challenges, learn from scripture and engage peers and teachers in a small group setting.
- Freshman Assemblies—On the last Friday of every month, individual classes will meet to discuss the needs specific to that class in order to keep students on the path to success. Such needs include: skill development, time management, stress reduction strategies, leadership cultivation, how to use the Internet wisely, how to be a good friend and how to cultivate healthy relationships.
- Student Retreat—At the beginning of each school year, the entire school goes on a three-day retreat in order to get to know peers and faculty through engagement in fun activities. This is a time for freshmen to get to know one another, their peers and the school culture. Click here to watch video from last year’s retreat.
- Study Halls/Student Support — Each student will have at least one or two study hall periods every two days. In study hall, the students will work with a faculty advisor to make sure coursework is understood and completed on time.
- Individual Faculty Office Hours—All faculty are available for teacher conferences twice a week. These conferences provide dedicated time for students to work one-on-one with their teachers. Teachers and staff are also available every day at lunch and after school, as well as during passing and free periods.
- Ongoing Communication—The school sends out an email every week outlining our programs and activities and holds regular “Coffee with the Head” meetings to ensure that parents remain current with all important events and information.
- Community Service Program—Every Pacifica student will complete 25 hours of community service per year. Students serve the local community in a variety of capacities: soup kitchens, blood drives, fundraisers, writing letters of encouragement, donating goods, building houses, beach cleanups, tutoring, elementary tutoring, etc. In doing so, students learn charity, hospitality, empathy and justice.
Meet the Academic Dean: Read Rev. Stratton’s bio here.