Volunteers Host Successful 9th Grade Open House Reply

Wednesday, October 8th was the day of the 9th grade open house at BSGE. Of course you already knew this, because it was undoubtedly marked in the planners of every BSGE student as the most important day of this month. There was a meeting after school in the library about the new organization of BSGE’s most talked about night of the year. Blank name tag stickers were handed out, and students screamed, “PASS THE SHARPIE” in the conference room as they eagerly scrawled things like “Ask me about softball!” on their name tags.
This year, college counselor Peter Wilson and parent coordinator Margaret Pasach were the ones who rallied up the volunteers, and gave them instructions for the event. The tags displayed the names of students, a feature of BSGE they were knowledgable about, and a second language which they kept hidden for moments like these when the world most needed their bilingual skills. Armed with brochures, name tags, and after-school snacks from the deli, the volunteers made their way to the cafeteria to get their room assignments. All the students excitedly rushed to sign their names in the same rooms as their friends, and soon they were walking up the stairs in groups. However, the Seniors, as BSGE royalty, had the prestigious job of welcoming hopeful BSGE applicants and their parents in the lobby. As Anthony Mendieta ’16 elegantly said “Quote this. I like how it sounds, ‘those walking out welcomed those walking in.’” LMS if you cried.

To the surprise of many, various BSGE students were excited to make BSGE look its best. Chairs were taken down and pushed in properly.  Textbooks were lined up neatly in corners.  White boards were erased, and prompts were freshly written on the boards in bright Expo, so that parents knew what kind of questions to ask.  The white boards contained long lists of after school activities, the names of volunteers, and different BSGE terms people might want clarification on. “Cafegymatorium?”
Luis Silva ’16, a veteran open house volunteer, discussed what has changed since 2010 when he first volunteered for the middle school open house.  “There are a lot of clubs to mention to parents now,” Luis said, gesturing to the board full of activities. “Back when I was in seventh grade there were only a few.”
When asked about the other differences in the organization of Open House Night, he looked at the pictures of farm animals he had drawn on the board and proudly answered that the night had become more “dependent on students.”  He went on to explain how we have more freedom in how we present BSGE.  Luis left the drawings up during the seminar-style meetings with parents and prospective students.  Many of the young prospective students seemed more at ease in the presence of Luis’s childlike artwork, and the parents seemed impressed with the maturity and composure shown by the volunteers thoroughly answering any question thrown at them.
Parents would stand and leave the room with a friendly wave, just as three more families would walk through door with their own queries.  Some families seemed to be very frustrated by the large volume of applicants, and the small number of available seats for ninth graders at BSGE. BSGE volunteers handled these questions with the grace of young people who have on multiple occasions conjured up perfect 800 word essays in only two hours.
As the clocks within BSGE ticked on as always — five minutes ahead of normal people time —  the number of parents began to dwindle.  In response, volunteers stepped up their game.  Students walked up to parents and shy 8th graders, gesturing towards their name tags or to the prompts on the board. Many of the students who spoke a second language, most commonly Spanish, felt that the name tags were a great idea.  They allowed parents who felt more comfortable speaking a language other than English to ask questions about BSGE, the IB program, and the infamous boys’ basketball team.
As the clock struck 7:30 pm, Ms. Johnson’s voice could be heard over the loudspeaker announcing the end of the most glamorous night of the year.  Volunteers slowly peeled off name tags and put the chairs back up for Thursday morning.  Groans signifying the realization of homework that has yet to be completed filled the classrooms as lights were clicked off.  BSGE students bid each other farewell and made their way to their bus/subway stations and the cool kids hopped into their parents’ minivans.  Everyone went home with feelings of sympathy for those adorably frightened 8th graders, some of whom we hope to see next September.
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