Ranchero Middle School eighth graders now know what it feels like to "Bleed Teal."


Hundreds of middle schoolers and their parents about 700 in attendance altogether went on campus tours and watched the school's precision sabre team in action. They also heard from athletic director Pete Delagardelle, activities director H.R. Lugo and principal Larry Bird. But school spirit became truly palpable when the Sultana High cheerleaders danced and the marching band performed their fight song.


"It was a really good kickoff," Bird said about Thursday's Freshman Parent Orientation Night. "We make that connection with them early. It's a way to inform students and parents of the choices they have."


What Bird hopes will stick with the families is that the school places safety and a family-like atmosphere at the top of its priority list.


"We're a family," Bird said. "While it's sad to know you're going to lose the seniors when they graduate it's exciting to see these eighth graders become part of our family. That's the neat thing."


The Western Association of School and Colleges, which will give its official findings in about six weeks, also was impressed with the school's friendly feeling, Bird added.


"They were very complimentary."


Sultana High will hold its school registration next week and freshmen orientation during the first week of August.


Bird expects 500 to 600 incoming freshmen next year, which is less than previous years. The addition of Cedar Middle School on the southwest side of Hesperia has helped spread out the number of incoming freshmen, he said.


He also credited RMS principal Cindy Costa for getting the eighth graders geared up for high school.


"Cindy has been very helpful with that," Bird said. "What we want is a seamless transition for the students."