Park Rapids Area High School tried out a new first-day-of-school concept on Tuesday: A day of orientation and team building for freshmen only.

Besides a discussion of rules and consequences, learning their way around a new building, collecting textbooks and becoming aware of their class schedules, the students also enjoyed a scavenger hunt, opportunities to try fitness tests during a submarine sandwich lunch, student and staff dances, a “fun walk” on the football field, small-group discussions and an ice cream treat.

“I think the kids are having fun,” said high school special education teacher Greg Kuehn. “They’re learning. They’re working together, so that’s refreshing to see. Different kids, different backgrounds, working together as a team.”

Students were also invited to share fun facts about themselves, discuss “if you only knew me” and think about topics from self-coping and stress management techniques to cyber bullying and their social media footprint.

Commenting on the ninth-grade-only concept, Kuehn said, “This is a good transition for the freshmen because they’re coming over (from the middle school). The sophomores, juniors and seniors kind of already know what it’s all about. So, these ninth graders will be able to transition more seamlessly from the middle school. I genuinely think it’s awesome.”