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KINGSBURG – As the new school year starts, Kingsburg High is welcoming one of its largest classes ever. School officials and student leaders say the focus this year is making those new students feel welcomed and part of the Viking family.

“I’ve heard really good things about this freshman class so I’m just excited to get to know them, KHS Principal Ryan Phelan said as the new students streamed into the gym.

In welcoming the nearly 310 freshmen on orientation day Aug. 16, Principal Phelan let the students know that if they’ve made mistakes in the past, the start of classes on Aug. 19 marked the time for a fresh beginning.

“High school matters. In elementary or junior high, you may have made some mistakes and had some hiccups along the way, but here you are as Vikings. Now, the decisions you make today will impact your life.”

Phelan encouraged the students to take their academics seriously, but to also have fun and take action to get their life and career plans started.

“Some people say high school is the greatest time of your life and it is really fun. There are a whole lot of things to do and memories to make, but high school is meant to set you up for the rest of your life. It should be the best time of your life.”

Since Phelan himself graduated from Kingsburg High, he predicted that many of the students would likely return to their home town someday. He advised them to think about how they treated each other now and to accept the fact they’re bound to make mistakes, but help is available along the way.

“So here are my two charges for you guys: Treat people right. When you’re my age, and you’re walking down the Save-Mart and you see that person you had an issue with in high school, it’s weird. You wish you’d handled things differently back then.

“Second, although we want to take things serious and work as hard as you can, know that you’re going to make mistakes and that’s OK. You’re not meant to have it all figured it out. Just try your best and we’ll get through it all together. We all love helping kids so if you need anything, talk to us and however we can help you out, we will.”

ASB President Victoria Palomar had that same message in mind for the freshmen. Since it’s her senior year, she was excited about graduating, football games and “the really good energy with all the seniors.” She was equally pumped to attend school with her younger sister, Audrey Palomar, for the first time as well.

“She’s an incoming freshman. It’s our first year ever going to the same school.”

The ASB Leadership students would pair up with groups of freshmen that day to give them tours of the school and answer questions. The plan is for them to meet up and look out for the younger students all year long, Palomar said. The goal is to build school spirit and squelch tension that cropped up the past school year.

“Last year, our school had a lot of fights. This year, I’m just really trying to get us to be one whole student body, have a lot of spirit and not have all that tension,” she said. “It just made the campus an awkward place. I want it to be a happy, safe place with good vibes.”

Palomar said she thinks in previous school years, underclassmen may not have felt welcomed, so the push this year is to build a sense of family.

“Our motto this year is ‘Once a Viking, Always a Viking’ so the freshmen will meet in groups throughout the school year with upper classmen. My group today will be my group for the rest of the year. I’ll be the upperclassman to look out for them and guide them.”

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The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or lbrown@selmaenterprise.com.

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