Revamped Start Strong Rally inspires freshmen (10 photos, Storify)


Credit: Chloey Settles/The Foothill Dragon Press

Ela Yasa


[dropcap size=dropcap]W[/dropcap]hat’s big, red, and flies around our school?”, “What teacher Wantz you to join journalism?” and “Who do you go to when you need help with your space barr?” were just some questions on Friday’s “Start Strong” scavenger hunt.

Freshmen gathered in Spirito Hall, then split into 25 different groups according to their FIRE crew. They found the posters they had made in their FIRE classrooms and went on a scavenger hunt.

One freshman, Troy Lindemann, showed off his FIRE class’s poster, which was decorated with cookies as a play on words for his FIRE teacher, Mrs. Batch. Another group used the California flag as inspiration.

The hunt consisted of going to 25 different locations, getting signatures from several different teachers, and posting pictures to Instagram; tagging them with the hashtag “#SS2018.” The team that finished first received gift cards.

The event was hectic as well as enjoyable for students. “My selfie camera is broken!” one girl exclaimed as her group gathered around math teacher Wayne Powers for a photo.


“Every student has a future. We’re hoping that all of our students at Foothill have a great future, and we’re just trying to set them up for that future,” said event organizer and science teacher Ryan Duston


Powers said he felt that the rally connected the school in a unique way.

“My wife works at Buena. It’s a big school, 2300 kids, and they have far more freshmen. I like the idea that you get all these freshmen together and you get them all involved in an activity together and they feel like a part of the school right away. It’s a great idea,” he said.

The goal of the rally was to lower the dropout rate, encourage a sense of self and school pride, and to open to doorway to freshmens’ futures.

“[Start Strong] encourages us to do well and it helps us feel more comfortable with the people who we’re going to be with for the next four years,” freshman Maddie Marriot said.


[soundcloud url=”″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]


Chemistry and biology teacher Ryan Duston founded the program when he heard about it at a conference a few years ago.

“The Start Strong started a couple of years ago, when I went to a conference and I heard about Commit to Graduate, which is a Renaissance program,” Duston said. “ We don’t have such a problem with graduation- our graduation rates are great- but graduating from Foothill is a big deal, and I wanted to emphasize how important that was.”

For the last few years, Start Strong had consisted of freshmen going to the black box, signing a graduation gown, taking a picture in front of a diploma with their FIRE crew, and receiving a cookie.

This year, the rally was altered, to appeal more to freshmen and leave a positive impact. The name of the rally was also changed from “Commit to Graduate” to “Start Strong” in order to match up with the “Finish Strong” for seniors.

Start Strong Rally Commissioner Corinn Conant explained why the rally was different this year.

“When I was a freshman, when we did the signing of the gown and the diploma picture, I didn’t really see that it was impacting everyone. I also helped out last year with Nicole Rockholt, who was in charge, and it didn’t really impact the freshmen as much,” Conant said. “So, this year, Mr. Duston and I thought we should try something new so that it’s more of an impact [on the freshmen].”


At the end of the event, the students gathered in Spirito Hall to sign a graduation gown. Duston raffled off a Samsung Galaxy tablet.

Many freshmen enjoyed the Start Strong Rally and thought it was a great experience.

“After [participating in the Start Strong Rally] I really feel closer to my FIRE group,” freshman Maize Anders said. “And it just really shows that not all schools can be boring […] there can be exciting aspects and a lot of fun things to look forward to.”

Others expressed that they were glad to meet other teachers on campus.

“ I thought it was fun, it was really fun to run around and meet new teachers, many which I didn’t know, and I met them now and it’s really cool […] It also helped me find my way around school,” said freshmen Lane Domke.

Overall, the event was successful in providing a great time for the freshmen, while putting them on the right path for their future.

“Every student has a future. We’re hoping that all of our students at Foothill have a great future, and we’re just trying to set them up for that future,” Duston said.

Storify Credit: Ela Yasa/The Foothill Dragon Press

Background Photo Credit: Chloey Settles/The Foothill Dragon Press

What do you think?