When Neosho's class of 2016 started their first day of high school on Wednesday, they received a warm welcome.

When Neosho's class of 2016 started their first day of high school on Wednesday, they received a warm welcome.
Shortly after arriving for class, all 350 freshmen were called to the gymnasium. However, it wasn't a common assembly that greeted them when they arrived.
Several of the high school's upperclassman, all wearing red T-shirts identifying them as "The Pilots," made a line to greet their new schoolmates as they walked through the gymnasium doors to music and high fives.
Those same upperclassmen also conducted a three-hour, freshman orientation, with faculty members only on hand to supervise. The orientation included games, skits, giveaways, advice and tours.
"You don't usually see the seniors welcoming the freshmen, so we tried to do that," said organizer Cecelia Bentz.
Bentz, a junior, along with Samantha Duke, also a junior, and seniors Colby Blair and Garrett Wood, were the masterminds behind Wednesday's orientation program.
Though Link Crew had held a freshman welcome in the past, it was usually held on the day before school started. This year, the four high school students decided to take matters into their own hands.
Bentz said she was inspired after attending a leadership conference in the summer and joined with her three fellow organizers to brainstorm a fun and informative welcome for the freshmen.
With the support of high school principal Darren Cook, as well as high school staff and faculty members, the four teenagers planned a unique welcome for the incoming students.
Once they had planned the assembly's activities, the organizers recruited help from Student Council and various other extracurricular groups.
"We have some people from every sports and club activity that gave us someone," Bentz said. "All these kids were here at 7 a.m. getting ready."
The student leaders broke the hundreds of freshmen into groups and led them on tours of the high school, which Bentz said was especially beneficial for the students new to the Neosho R-5 district.
Bentz said the tours could benefit even the returning students though, as some classes had moved to new classrooms from the year prior, and though the freshmen had spent their eighth grade year at the same campus, their classes were limited to a separate hallway.
Freshmen also collected their class schedules and locker assignments at the assembly, and heard a short speech from their class counselor, Joanne Slama.
To keep the morning entertaining, organizers taped candy to the bleachers, threw Neosho Wildcat T-shirts into the stands, and played games helping to familiarize the students with their classmates.
Toward the end of the program, five of the student volunteers delivered a performance in the center of the gymnasium.
"They're doing a skit, trying to give advice for high school, such as, 'don't do PDA (public display of affection) in a certain teacher's classroom' or 'the atrium bathrooms are the best,'" Bentz explained.
Though the event was a fun way to spend the first part of the school day, several anxious faces could be seen in the mass of freshmen filling the bleachers.
"It's going to be fun I guess, I'll try my hardest," said freshman Kasey White, who said he was both nervous and excited to begin his high school years.
Freshman Austin Clemons said the orientation helped prepare him for the start of high school.
"We went and walked around the school and it showed me where all my classes are," Clemons said. "I'm pretty excited."