TROY - Cassandra Cooper, 14, was one of the many students attending the ninth grade orientation at the Troy Junior-Senior High School auditorium Thursday evening.

Accompanied by her grandma, Adrianne VanNoy, she listened as high school principal Sue Shipman and assistant principal Mary Abreu talked to the incoming freshman about the next big step in their lives.

Cooper said she was a little nervous about going to school with the older students.

Another student who will be starting ninth grade, Jesse Terre-Blanche, 14, attended the orientation with his mom, Stacie Madigan.

"He's a good student," she said. "He enjoyed the summer."

A new student, Zach Zimmerman, 14, attended the orientation with his mother, Catherine.

His father and uncles are Troy graduates. A football player, he was excited about all the opportunities that await him.

Shipman gave the ninth graders and their parents a warm welcome.

She reminded the students that they need 28 credits to graduate, and that they are the first cohort of students who must pass the three Keystone Exams - Algebra, Literature, and Biology - in order to graduate.

She encouraged the incoming freshmen to take advantage of the opportunities at the school, such as extracurricular activities and clubs.

One big change this year is that students have to be in the classroom at 8:05 a.m. Last year, it was 8:20 a.m.

"You're getting here earlier so you can have more (instruction) time," Shipman told the students.

Shipman made parents aware of the Parent Portal on the district's website. With the resource, parents can check their child's attendance, grades, and assignments and email teachers.

She told parents to not let an issue fester, and call and arrange a conference or talk to her or Abreu.

Abreu told the incoming freshmen about the "four D's." She told them to not be defiant, disruptive, or disrespectful and to not be a danger to themselves or others by bringing a knife, weapon, drugs, alcohol, or tobacco to school.

She told them about the biggest changes in attire this school year. She said shorts have to go down to around the knee cap, Bermuda-style, and sleeveless tops are not allowed.

On another subject, she told the students to put things in perspective when it comes to negative comments. Although you can't control what people say, she said, you can control how you react to it, "and that's a life skill."

She offered the students some kind words.

"I wish you all a good school year."

Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; email: