Eighth graders from middle schools throughout the district shadowed at Aragon on Oct. 13 and 16 and will also be shadowing on Oct. 20 to experience a day in high school and explore the school as a potential future choice.
Prospective middle schoolers tour with Big Buddies, where they attend different classes throughout the day, and are able to meet both potential teachers and classmates. Big Buddies are a group of upperclassmen who aid freshmen throughout their high school transition, around the school’s campus.
“We want them to get a realistic idea of a day in Aragon,” said Dounia Kardosh, head of student services, who also organizes middle school shadowing.
Eighth graders who attend are also given the opportunity to meet upperclassmen who may help them ease into their transition in the future year.
“They visit different classrooms to really show and give [the eighth graders] a feel of the academics available,” Kardosh said. “Teachers talk to them so they get an idea of what Aragon has to offer and what are the opportunities for different sports [and] different clubs.”
Aragon remains a popular choice for eighth graders in the area.
“We have 360-plus [students] coming and a lot of unhappy ones that are on the waiting list,” Kardosh said. “We opened [the registration] up on a Monday at 9 a.m. and [within] 10 to 15 minutes we were full on all three days … It was like watching the stock market as you watch all the responses.”
“We opened [the registration] up on a Monday at 9 a.m. and [within] 10 to 15 minutes we were full on all three days”
In previous years, shadowers were given tours by staff members and even freshmen. But recently, after the introduction of the Big Buddies program, Kardosh designated these responsibilities to them.
“It’s my job to welcome them and make sure their first experience at Aragon is memorable and positive,” said senior Big Buddy Bianca Araneta.
With the Big Buddies giving tours, there is a greater connection between the shadowers and the school environment.
“[It] makes the shadowers feel more comfortable since [Big Buddies] are students that have been at Aragon for a couple of years,” Kardosh said. “The kids really connect. I felt like it gives them a sense of security, so if they do come back … some of the faces are familiar so they can feel at home.”
Freshman Peter Gadala shadowed as an eighth grader and believed that his day at Aragon helped him with his decision to attend the school.
“Shadowing allowed me to see all of the schools and decided which one was the best for me,” he said. “This school is more focused on computer technology than the rest of the schools so that’s why I chose Aragon.”
Besides a variety of class offerings, many students choose Aragon for reasons including academics, sports and its welcoming community.
“We are very open and we don’t set boundaries like, ‘You don’t belong here,’” said academic counselor Thalia Luna. “Everybody is welcomed.”
Aragon provides an inclusive environment for students.
“I really like the atmosphere,” said Bayside Middle School eighth grader Erica Lin. “I like Aragon because I know a lot of people who go here … and the community seems really nice.”