Redwood welcomed the Class of 2025 with an in-person orientation

Kelly Chuang

On Aug. 13, Redwood High School welcomed the Class of 2025 through a long overdue in-person orientation. Previously interrupted by the pandemic, the physical orientation was replaced by a virtual inauguration of the Class of 2024. Even though Link Crew did their best to introduce smaller groups of incoming students through Zoom meetings, junior and Link Crew leader Sophia Acker believes that the virtual format was unfulfilling.

Crowding onto the South Lawn, rising freshmen set off to find their designated Link Crew group.

“A lot of freshmen didn’t show up, and I understand why — [online orientation] is not the same. Being on campus, meeting each other and getting to tour is the most important part of orientation,” Acker said.

Starting off the game, Principal David Sondheim plays Spikeball with incoming freshmen on the South Lawn.


Luckily, Link Crew was able to resume most of their beloved orientation traditions. Rising freshmen and Link Crew leaders mingled in games of cornhole, Jenga and Spikeball on the South Lawn. Incoming students were taken on the long-awaited tour, as Link Crew leaders identified important landmarks such as the main building, Covered Eating Area and outlying structures like the portables and gymnasiums. In traditional closing fashion, Link Crew advisor Erik Berkowitz tore through a $1 and $20 bill, reminding incoming freshmen that time is money. Incoming freshman Spencer Wilson enjoyed the games he played with his group, and is grateful for the in-person orientation.

“I played Name Tag, where we threw a ball around and said each other’s names — and it was fun somehow,” Wilson said. “I’m definitely glad I’m not virtual for most of the year … because being on Zoom, you just can’t connect with your classmates. It feels great to be in-person for my first day,” said Wilson.

Link Crew adjusted many orientation customs to align with COVID-19 safety practices, being particularly conscious of spacing. As a result, instead of gathering in the main gymnasium like past years, rising freshmen took seats in the amphitheater. In his introductory speech, Assistant Principal Saum Zargar noted how the incoming students lined before him would travel full circle in their time at Redwood — beginning and ending their time on campus in the same spot. 


Awaiting the beginning of orientation, rising freshmen settle into the amphitheater steps.

Traditionally, the purpose of orientation has been to welcome incoming students into the culture and community at Redwood. However, Link Crew advisor Erik Berkowitz feels that this year’s orientation offered a long-awaited bonding experience that will influence the rest of the Redwood community.


“We’ve all felt isolated, and there’s been a lot of sadness in the community, and us having an opportunity to come together and bring joy will have ripple effects,” Berkowitz said.

Berkowitz suggests that orientation is not the first step to building a community at Redwood, but rather a first occurrence.

“Our community is an ongoing process. We’re not bonded because we all go to Redwood, we’re bonded because of the way we interact with each other,” Berkowitz said. “I hope that all of us who represent and work in groups on campus have an opportunity to work together to actively create the community of Redwood.”