Eighth graders visit McNicholas: A day in the life of a shadow host

Approximately 250 shadows visit McNicholas each year to experience an average school day at McNicholas. Many 8th grade students base their decision on which high school to attend based on their shadowing experience.  “A student’s shadow experience is one of the key factors in the high school decision,” Director of Admissions and Enrollment Christy Berning said.

As the Director of Admissions and Enrollment, Berning is also the moderator for the McNicholas Ambassador Program.  To be a shadow host, current students must be either part of the Ambassador program or specifically requested by an eighth grader to be a shadow host.  In addition, McNicholas students must complete a shadow host profile, including which classes and extracurriculars the student participates in.  This information is used to help match shadows to shadow hosts who have similar interests.

Once a shadow host is matched to a shadow, the host must call the eighth grader two days in advance of the shadow’s visit to introduce herself.  After this is completed, shadow hosts must prepare for the day of the shadow’s visit and dedicate themselves to making sure their guest has a positive McNicholas experience.

To see what an average day in the life of a shadow host is like, junior Grant Tore offered the schedule  he followed with his shadow on Friday, Nov. 2.

  • 7:15 a.m.Meet and Greet.  Shadow hosts meet their shadows in the café after the shadows sign in at the welcome table in the main lobby.  The shadows, hosts, and parents of the shadow are offered donuts and orange juice while getting acquainted with each other. “The meet and greet was really nice to get to know my shadow and talk to his dad before the day got started,” Tore said.  During the meet and greet, shadows and their hosts are given yellow lanyards to wear during the day.  A flash drive with videos of McNicholas students playing sports, performing shows, and learning during class is attached to the shadow’s lanyard.
  • 7:40 a.m.-noonClasses.  Shadow hosts must pay attention in class, but at the same time make sure that their shadow is comfortable.  Sometimes, there are opportunities for shadows to participate in class. “My shadow drew an ad for us in AP US Government and played a game in Spanish class,” Tore said.
  • NoonMardi Gras lunch.  On the preferred shadow days, shadows and their hosts were treated to a Mardi Gras-themed lunch in the auxiliary gym.  They received Mardi Gras beads as well as pizza, chips, and lemonade complimentary of McNicholas.  While the shadows and hosts ate lunch, the band played jazz music, and a slideshow of past Mardi Gras pictures was projected onto a screen.
  • 12:53 p.m. – 1:51 p.m.Classes. If a host is taking a test, the shadow has the opportunity to watch the videos on the flash drive on the host’s tablet.
  • 1:56-2:40Pep rally. Some shadows stayed for the pep rally at the end of the day.  Guardian Angels’ 8th grader Noah Kohl, Tore’s shadow, got to participate by filming part of the pep rally for Video Editing teacher Barb Gillming.  “My shadow left at the end of the day after the pep rally,” Tore said. “He was really glad he stayed the whole day, and he really had fun at the pep rally.”

After Kohl left, Tore wrote a note thanking Kohl for visiting McNicholas.  Overall, Tore believes that Kohl enjoyed his time at McNicholas.  He seemed to like the classes and had many opportunities to participate.  Tore was pleased that he could help make an 8th grader’s experience at McNicholas as enjoyable and positive as possible.


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