Incoming sophomores get taste of Tiger spirit

"Have fun, learn a ton," Douglas High Principal Marty Swisher told hundreds of incoming sophomores at the high school's orientation on Wednesday night.

With the Valley's secondary schools opening Monday, Swisher wanted to prep and prime new students for the Tiger experience.

"I choose to be at DHS," Swisher said. "I don't have to be here, but I truly believe it's one of the best schools in the state of Nevada."

The high school's cheerleading squad and leadership class led students in the "Tiger Beat," the school's cheer.

"We got the beat, we got that mighty Tiger beat!" they cheered, followed by a chorus of foot-stomps and hand-claps.

Swisher said the Tiger spirit is about community, about solidarity through the great times and the trying times.

"This school is not just a building, but a group of people that get together every day and support each other," he said.

The students themselves were both eager and anxious to kick off their high school careers.

"It's supposed to be better than middle school," 15-year-old Robert Tingley said. "I'm looking forward to aquatics at the swimming pool."

"I'm excited and nervous," said former Pau-Wa-Lu student Tayler Christopher. "I think I'll be OK. I'll go back and see my friends and do the best I can."

Classmate Cooper Jones, 15, said his elementary and middle school years flew by.

"I don't want the summer to end," he said. "But I'm not intimidated. The high school is just a bigger version of the middle school but with more privileges. I just need to get through the next three years."

Friends Hannah Townsend, 15, and Chani Frazier, 14, already know some people at Douglas. Frazier's mother works at the school, and Townsend has a sister in the 12th grade.

"It seems crazy and fun," Townsend said.

"Kind of overwhelming," Frazier added, "but it's going to be cool."

Both sophomores are looking forward to new classes, new teachers and new people in general, including a whole new selection of boys.

"There's a lot of hot guys here," Frazier said, an observation that might give some mothers pause.

Mothers like Meg Getty, whose 15-year-old daughter Arel is also starting high school on Monday.

"I hope that what I've taught her will go with her," Getty said. "She's old enough to start making her own decisions, and hopefully she will make the right ones."

Getty has an older son at the high school, too. He'll be entering his junior year.

"I was concerned when my oldest started, but because of the faculty and staff here, I am confident they will both succeed," she said.

Another set of parents at the event were Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini and his wife Celeste. His stepdaughter and her daughter, 15-year-old Leah Walters, will be a sophomore.

"I still wish she was in grade school," Celeste Pierini said. "But I hope she'll carry with her the values I've instilled."

"Most parents know the last three years are so important," Ron Pierini added.

From the perspective of law enforcement, Pierini said the high school will face the same challenges it's faced in years past: traffic violations, bullying, gangs and substance abuse.

He said the sheriff's office will be asking county commissioners to reinstate three positions that were eliminated during budget cuts, two patrol officers and one investigator. He said if the positions are reinstated, one position will become a gang officer.

Pierini estimated Carson City has about 600 known gang members, while Douglas County is closer to 250.

"A large percentage of those are young kids in our middle schools and high school," he said.

He said the sheriff's office is working directly with the schools "to curb as much as we can."

"Having Greg Shields, our resources officer at the high school, is a huge deterrent and very beneficial," he said. "Our relationship with the schools helps students realize that we are on their side."

In regards to substance abuse, Pierini said he's 110 percent behind the high school's new random drug testing program for extracurricular students.

"If we intervene, and they don't start using drugs when they're younger, there's a better chance they won't when they're older," he said. "Any kind of deterrent tool I'm in favor of. All of us need to come together to keep our kids off drugs."

As a resident, Pierini said he enjoys high school sports, especially baseball, but that graduation is his favorite event of the year.

"The neatest thing is graduation," he said, "to see those kids meet that goal."

Pierini also praised the high school's JROTC program.

"They have great discipline and a great mission to go on," he said. "I would like to see more kids go into it."


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