Students shine, showcase Collegiate in revitalized program

Norfolk Collegiate students are the best evidence of the top-notch education our school provides. Thanks to an expanded component of our admissions process, in which our students lead the way, prospective families can experience firsthand what it means to be an Oak. 

The Carolton Oaks Society is a revitalized program in which 34 students from grades eight through 12 introduce future families and students to Norfolk Collegiate by touring campus, serving as hosts to students on shadow days and assisting at events throughout the year. 

“This is a more formal structure and leadership-oriented approach, where students are now leading facilities tours,” said Director of Enrollment Nelda Nutter.  

How it works
Select students in grades eight through 12 gathered for an orientation in August during which their ambassadorial role was emphasized. After orientation, they attended three training sessions, including tour training by Nutter. Next, they practiced their touring with Athletic Director Mary Peccie, who is assisting with this leadership training. 

“The training is now consistent and much more detailed,” said Nutter. Once students are confident in their school knowledge, they are asked to assist with tours and shadow days. Junior Tyler Smith has led several tours, including one with the school’s alumni board. 

“The training helped me with the facts that I didn’t know, such as specifics about the school’s history,” said Tyler. “The parents on the tour appreciate that we can answer their questions and that we are able to speak from experience.” 

Her classmate senior Peyton Fancher agreed. “It’s great because everyone is able to personalize the experience. I think it’s a good idea and will draw people to the school. Seeing our confidence really helps show how great our school and its students are.”

For Peccie, the program not only highlights our students, but it also provides her a chance to work with our students in a role outside of athletics. “I’m really excited to be working with the students,” she said. “I put myself in the parents’ shoes. If I’m led by someone who has a passion for the school, then that means more to me as a parent. I’m really proud of the students for stepping up and embracing this role. They are doing an excellent job.”

Showcasing our students
“This program is another opportunity for us to showcase our students,” said Nutter. “We’ve always included them, but we are putting them to the forefront even more now.”

Freshman Jackson Burke recently hosted a potential student during a shadow day and believes the this added training is a great addition to our admissions process. “Being able to host a shadow is pretty cool,” said Jackson. “I really like being able to show the kids the parts of the class that you like. I also like that it allows me to be more involved with my school.”

As part of the program, our student ambassadors are paired up with students who shadow them for half of a day. The ambassador call the prospective students prior to their visit and follow up with them later to keep the line of communication open and extend the invitation for continued involvement. 

“It’s a smart idea to get the students involved in a different aspect of the school,” said Jackson. “It’s like they took a giant bowl of skittles and grabbed a handful of different personalities to be able to represent our school.”

Growing our school, students
In addition to providing our visitors and interested families with students' insights into the advantages of a Norfolk Collegiate education, it’s also providing our students with an opportunity to sharpen their leadership skills. 

Tyler agreed. “I can be quiet, but this makes me lead a group,” she said. “I’ve noticed that I’ve become more confident with adults since starting this.”

Since participating in the program, Tyler has seen a change in how she thinks of Collegiate. “I take more ownership,” she said. “It’s my school to sell. People are looking at more than one school, and we have to show them why we’re the best. I like that I can not only show, but also tell them of my experiences and how we really are a community here.”

That connection is one of the reasons this program is so important. “As the kids get older, parents start to leave the decision of school selection up to the student,” said Nutter. “To have our kids connecting to the other kids is another reason we’re expanding the program.  In fact, the parents and the students who shadowed last week have expressed sincere appreciation.”