It is not your run-of-the-mill first day for freshmen. Xavier High School's Falcon Blast is designed for freshmen to start to feel comfortable here and, well, have a blast in the process.
There was miniature golf, a loud rock-paper-scissors contest, an inflatable obstacle course, a scavenger hunt, a tour of the school, and other recreational opportunities, ranging from football and soccer to board games and video games.
An academic orientation will happen Friday and the first official day of school is Tuesday, but on this day summer fun had not ended.
The Falcon Blast is a time when Big Falcons (seniors) meet their Little Falcons (freshmen) and begin a process where these Little Falcons can reach out to their Big Falcons. It wasn't that long ago that the Big Falcons were the Little Falcons. Things have a way of coming around full circle.
Brian Masselli '20 was one of the many Big Falcons gathered Wednesday. He remembers his Falcon Blast.
"My Big Falcon was Anthony Dortenzio, and Paul Iannello ('20) was my Falcon buddy, as I call it, and to this day he is one of my best friends," Masselli said.
Masselli was part of the state championship riflery team last year and is looking forward to his senior year, both in terms of that sport and academics. "I'm a potential team captain," he said. "I think we can repeat. We have a strong team again this year."
PJ Cavaliere '20 was sitting with his Little Falcons, Nick Russo and Finn Russell, as they talked and got to know each other. It was early in the day but Russo said what is often repeated here: "Everyone is so nice here." He said he was interested in joining the robotics team.
And that was a message from Headmaster Dave Eustis, who talked to the students at the start of the Falcon Blast.
"If I have one message it is get involved," Eustis said. "Join a team or a club. From athletics to theater to music to all sorts of activities, you cannot get bored at Xavier. This place some alive at 2:30 [with all the after-school opportunities]."
Eustis also said "my door is always open. I am happy to talk with you. I want you to succeed. Today is the first step on that road to success."
Ryan Suprin '20 also remembers his first step, his Falcon Blast.
"It was a great time and got me ready for school and the transition to Xavier," Suprin said. "So I'm trying to make the transition for my Little Falcons as smooth as possible so they can enjoy Xavier as much as I do. I want to help them get the most out of Xavier."
A member of the soccer team, Suprin predicts another great season for the Falcons.
After lunch – the chicken tenders and fries seemed to be the top choice – the seniors and freshmen roamed around from one recreational opportunity to the other. As with everything at Xavier, there were plenty of opportunities.
All one has to do is make the most of them.
Senior Kaden Powers, a Peer Minister, was here to encourage the freshmen.
"I want to help them get involved in clubs and activities, and as a Peer Minister I want to help lead the freshman class spiritually and academically," Powers said. "And I want them to have advocates and role models."
Last year, it was very sunny, hot and humid for Falcon Blast. This year, there was a cloud cover and some light rain (the heavier rain held off). And, as the students worked up a sweat outside on the playing field, the snow cones once again were a hit.
In the background the scoreboard read 2023. The journey begins.