The Denison theater was packed with almost 300 incoming Denison High School students being led in fight songs, cheers and dance competitions Friday. It was the start of a busy day called Fish Camp, a long-running tradition put on by the Denison High School Student Council to help orient incoming freshmen to the world of high school.

The Denison theater was packed with almost 300 incoming Denison High School students being led in fight songs, cheers and dance competitions Friday. It was the start of a busy day called Fish Camp, a long-running tradition put on by the Denison High School Student Council to help orient incoming freshmen to the world of high school.


"We want them to have a better understanding of what is expected of them when they start high school and have a better picture of what the high school is going to be like for them," Fish Camp Director Jamie Dungan said. "So whenever they come to school, the first day they’re more comfortable here."


Students this year were put on teams for activities from dancing to photo scavenger hunts. It’s a way to get them involved in school activities and have them ready for the more serious afternoon session.


"They have pizza for lunch and then we kind of go over some important things about school, like our attendance policy and dances and the GPA rank stuff," Dungan said. "We talk to them about dating and relationships, just lots of things that they need to hear about before they start school."


Sophomore Grace Blood was acting as photographer at Fish Camp Friday morning, and said it was a huge help to her during her first year.


"If I didn’t have this last year, I would have been totally confused; I wouldn’t know where to go," she said. "At the very least, now I have some common ground places. The theater is right next to the cafeteria, where everyone goes."


She said the camp is an important step to help the transition from middle school to high school.


Jordin Hunter was being led on a photo scavenger hunt and said his biggest sources of nerves was figuring out where to go the first day of school.


"This is a big school," he said. "This thing’s huge."


As he was led on the hunt and his team got better acquainted with the surroundings, however, it was clear he was having a good time, saying he was ready for the start of the school year.


Dungan agreed that while the new Denison High School’s size is a blessing to the district, it also presents a challenge for new students.


"It is huge, and so for the first two weeks, we teachers know to stand outside of our doors and if they look lost we say, ‘OK, math, English, science, what are you looking for?’ We can point them in the right direction," she said. "… Because you walk in the first day, if they’ve never been here, it’s overwhelming and they have no idea where they’re going."


She said in addition to the tours offered at Fish Camp, students also have the opportunity to be led straight to their classrooms when they pick up their schedules on Aug. 12.


"We have Student Council International Honors Society kids here that day too, and they give personal tours with the kids’ schedules so they can walk to all of their real classes," she said. "So they have several opportunities to come look at the school before it starts."


An added bonus to Fish Camp, Dungan said, is the opportunity for freshmen to find familiar faces and friendly upperclassmen before the start of school. That aspect was highlighted this year by the team element, each represented by a different superhero. Groups of 12 or fewer worked together to complete the day’s challenges, performing ice breakers and exercises to better bond.


"We have several kids who have never been to school in Denison before, they’re new enrollees and so they’re actually getting to meet a small group of people," Dungan said. "… It’s somebody they can recognize for sure on the first day of school. And we also want them to be familiar with all our student council kids’ faces too, because that’s an upperclassman that might have their back and help them out if they may need them to."


As freshmen stood on the theater stage and performed feats including lip-sync battles and dancing to the "Wobble," sophomore Grace Blood smiled.


"I just hope they have a great year," she said.