Program prepares girls for ninth grade
All young ladies who will be going into their freshman year of high school can receive advice on how to make a smooth transition from junior high with the Bright Night 2022 event to be held on Aug. 13.
The free, inaugural function will be hosted by Gracie Garner, a soon-to-be junior at Plant City High School, who wants to offer guidance to girls who will be entering ninth grade.
“Bright Night is just a faith-based event of fun and encouragement for freshman high school girls, and the goal is to just help young women to start their high school journey on the right foot by showing the importance of inclusiveness and decision making and building solid relationships in that first year of high school,” she said.
It will begin at 6 p.m. at 1001 W. Pinedale Dr., in Plant City.
Garner said that she empathizes with girls entering that next phase in their education and that the new atmosphere can be somewhat daunting.
She was home-schooled until the end of middle school and had the desire to go to a traditional educational institution.
“Once I got to ninth grade, I decided I wanted to go to public school,” Garner said. “I wanted to do all the things. I wanted to be a cheerleader, in FFA (Future Farmers of America), an officer in every club, so I jumped right in.”
She was looking forward to “the full high school experience.”
However, making that transition was more difficult than she thought it would be, she said.
It was a culture shock…especially making new friends.
She realized that engaging with other students on social media didn’t necessarily make them friends. Garner would post positive messages to other students online, but then they would walk past her in school without speaking.
“Things that were so foreign to me were just the norm to most people and it was really hard for me and I could tell the freshman girls that were in my class too – they struggled with the same thing,” she said.
Her best friend who was used to attending public school was there for encouragement and support
Faith in God also played a huge role in acclimating to her new environment, and she decided not to compromise her Christian values, she said.
As she entered her sophomore year, she had adjusted more but noticed that the incoming freshman girls had difficulty finding their place in school.
She prayed for a way to make a difference and came up with the concept of Bright Night.
“It’s definitely taken a group effort,” Garner said.
The theme of the event is entitled “You Can Sit with Us” and will have five speakers to motivate the freshman girls. There will also be games and a pizza party.
Garner has gone on to become involved in school activities such as being co-captain of her varsity cheerleading team as well as a historian for the FFA program. She’s hoping that other girls will be able to adjust and be successful in high school as well.
“Lean in with kindness and make new friends,” she said. “Don’t be shy, especially going into the ninth grade. Go out, pull up a chair…you can sit with us. Be inclusive no matter who they are, what they do. We all have differences, but our differences can pull us together and we all can find a common thread between us.”
Although Bright Night 2022 is a free event, those who plan on attending are asked to R.S.V.P. at BrightNight2022.rsvpify.com.