Franklin-Simpson High School's Class of 2022 gathered in the school's gymnasium for their freshman orientation on Thursday, Aug. 2, taking their first steps as high school students toward their future careers.

"You're getting ready to go through four of the best years of your life," FSHS Principal Tim Schlosser told the assembly. "What I want you to know about FSHS is that we are here to help you be successful. My goal for the school is to live our mission every day: 'to empower students to be college or career ready.'"

The orientation is a relatively recent tradition meant to encourage students to get involved both in academics and extracurricular activities. According to Simpson County Schools Superintendent Jim Flynn, it was born out of the experiences shared by FSHS alumni.

"This started because of students who sat in your seat saying, 'I wish I would have come into high school with an attitude that I'm going to take advantage of what FSHS has to offer,'" Flynn said. "They said, 'Too many of us missed opportunities and we can't go back and reclaim those.'"

Many of those alumni recorded video messages presented to the incoming freshmen, sharing advice based on their own high school years.

"I also want to challenge you [to] take care of right now," Schlosser said. "What are you doing right now to help prepare yourself for the future?"

Students took part in interactive activities as well, including a "fashion show" illustrating the dress code and a Simon Says-esque exercise with Flynn to demonstrate how actions and words can differ.

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"Here's what happens to people so often. They can talk the talk, but sometimes they don't walk the walk," Flynn said. "You can say all the right things but if you don't do the right things, people will see that. Take advantage of FSHS … at the end of the day I wish for all of you to be excited and ready to go."

Simpson County's newest Wildcats also received a lesson in school spirit courtesy of Steve Thurmond, executive director of the Franklin-Simpson Chamber of Commerce and FSHS graduate. Students who knew the school's fight song and alma mater were able to win $5 cash prizes, and the crowd also competed to see who could deliver the most energetic cheer before splitting into groups for a school tour.

"We want you to succeed, and FSHS is the best place you can be. It's one of the top high schools in the U.S. and it is the top high school in the region. You have every opportunity to succeed," Thurmond said. "This is your moment, and you can screw it up or you can be successful."

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