Central High School community welcomes 277th class

Posted: May 21, 2014

DOZENS OF Central High School students and alums lined the entrance to their school and the front hallway inside, wearing their school colors proudly and wildly waving their arms.

"277! 277!" they cheered last Thursday, high-fiving members of the incoming class as they entered the school.

This was no pep rally in the traditional sense, but the annual Central High School freshman orientation for September's incoming class, known in these parts as 277. "It was really lively and felt like a homecoming," said Nathan Zeyl, 14, referring to the students' welcome. "I didn't think it was going to be that cool."

The Bustleton student was one of 658 incoming freshmen, from 200 schools across the region, who attended last week's orientation. The class' average scores in the nationally normed assessments are in the 93rd percentile in reading and the 94th percentile in math. About 14,500 students applied to Central, on Olney Avenue near Ogontz, and 975 were accepted.

The event started with speeches and continued with musical performances by the school choir and orchestra, 95 student-led tours and plenty of required information to begin the Central experience.

"I remember being where you guys are right now, sitting in this auditorium with my mom and hearing about what an honor it was to be accepted into Central High School," said Brandon Rose, of class 273, president of the student association. "And today I can bear witness that those words were true and that this school truly is a special place."

The incoming students also heard the school song, and were introduced to representatives of the home and school association and the Associated Alumni of Central High School.

Alum Robert Del Femine, of class 235, took out a crisp $100 bill and bet any 277 student that he or she would have five lifetime friends - "people you cannot live without" - by the time graduation rolls around in 2018.

Angela Abraham, of class 271, accompanied her brother, Ashish, to the orientation and later reflected on Del Femine's bet. "That is extremely true," said Abraham, now a Temple University student. "Coming out of Central, I have so many friends that I'm still friends with now."

Timothy J. McKenna, president of the school, said, "It's a welcome night to introduce next year's class to Central High School officially." (Because Central has the authority to award academic degrees, its head is referred to as a president rather than "principal.")

"It makes the transition smooth," McKenna added. The freshmen learn about the school's history, its traditions and the physical layout of the huge school, which he said can be overwhelming.

Much of the program is organized by students in all grades and the freshman sponsor, English teacher Kristen Haskins, McKenna said.

"They truly and dearly want to welcome the students."

On Twitter: @ReginaMedina

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