The Verrazano School recently welcomed over 70 members of the Class of 2014 to campus for New Student Orientation. Students are accepted to The Verrazano School based on their strong academic records and extracurricular involvement in high school, and Verrazano freshmen are enrolled in learning communities (LCs), or groups of linked courses, together for Fall 2010 depending on their areas of interest.

Frank Saulle, an incoming Verrazano School student who graduated from New Dorp High School and will be studying Education and Foreign Language, said that he “was honored [to be accepted into the School] because not many people get this opportunity.”

Lauren Hornek, who also comes to CSI from Tottenville High School and who plans to major in Communications, echoed those sentiments, but underscored some of the benefits of Verrazano. “I feel privileged because out of 2,000 [new freshmen] coming in, it’s [under] 100 [new Verrazano School students]. I feel special and grateful that I was picked for this community. It’s great–one-on-one [mentoring and counseling], small class sizes, learning communities–it feels like a family already.”

Jia Hua, a Nursing student from Edward R. Murrow High School, focused on another aspect of the program. “I feel special because [The Verrazano School] has better [programs] like study abroad [opportunities], which I’m looking forward to.”

Entering Verrazano freshmen represent 33 high schools from Staten Island, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, and many were inducted into the National Honor Society. There are captains of varsity teams, two Eagle Scouts, a valedictorian and salutatorian, and a senior class president in the Class of 2014. Students in the Class of 2014 have also been involved in the community, with a majority of the students volunteering their time at local non-profit organizations over the last several years.

The New Student Orientation was kicked off with an introduction by Brian DeLong, Director of New Student Orientation/CLUE, and followed by a welcome by Dr. Charles Liu, Director of The Verrazano School. CSI President Dr. Tomás Morales was present to offer his greetings and advice for the incoming Verrazano students as they begin their college experience.

One of the unique components of the Verrazano New Student Orientation is the partnership with Project U.S.E.– an experiential education organization that has been providing learning experiences for 40 years–and this is the third year that Project U.S.E. has come to campus to work with incoming Verrazano students. Staff from Project U.S.E. facilitated teambuilding exercises, group games, and low-challenge course activities with the groups, and students traveled throughout the day with their learning communities. The challenge activities facilitated by Project U.S.E. helped students build a sense of community and connection to one another while working collaboratively to achieve the goals set before them. Over the course of the day, students learned how to apply concepts from the activities to their future college experiences at CSI while having fun.

After spending a good part of the day with the new students, Verrazano School director Dr. Charles Liu offered his assessment. “I am so impressed with this Verrazano class. These are students from all walks of life with tremendous backgrounds and skills. These are some of the best students who have ever come to CSI, and I’m looking forward to great things from them.”

Katie Geschwendt, Coordinator of The Verrazano School and the FIRST Program at CSI, also offered a glowing review of the incoming class. “The academic caliber of the Verrazano Class of 2014 is evident, and we anticipate that the members of this class will have an excellent college experience and make exciting contributions to the College of Staten Island.”

In addition, Geschwendt recognized some of the people who worked to make this Orientation possible. “Our thanks go out to Brian DeLong and his staff in the New Student Orientation/CLUE Office, Dining Services, the Center for the Arts, the CSI Foundation, and everyone who helped make this day a great success.”