Photo Courtesy by Katie Klingbeil
Link Crew is responsible for guiding freshmen students into ninth grade and assures that ninth graders feel mentally, academically, and socially prepared for their high school experience. Their contact with ninth graders is very important, and this year Link Crew is finding a way to help the students, all while working around the CoronaVirus guidelines.
Role model juniors and seniors are chosen to be Link Crew Leaders, and because Link Crew Leaders are upperclassmen, freshmen receive the support and guidance they need from fellow students that understand the overwhelming transition.
“As an upperclassmen, I understand what the freshmen are going through. Being a Link Crew Leader has taught me empathy because as a freshman I remember being nervous and scared, and I can see my younger self being mirrored in the freshmen now. I get to watch them come out of their shells and bond with these complete strangers, and to me it’s one of these ‘wow’ moments,” said senior events commissioner, Sarina Iyer.
Typically, Link Crew begins with a powerful and interactive orientation that helps bring excitement to freshmen and allow them to begin developing strategies and relationships that will contribute to their time spent at SJHHS. However, due to the pandemic, things looked very different this year.
Freshman orientation normally involves bringing 700+ freshmen to school over a two-day period of time, in a big pep-rally style in the gym. Typically at this orientation students would break out into small groups of about ten-to-twelve with their Link Crew Leaders, however this year was the first entirely virtual orientation.
During this online orientation, freshmen logged on to a Google Hangout at their assigned time, where they watched introductory videos introducing administrators and teachers at the school. Then, students engaged in small group activities where they could engage with other freshmen and ask any questions that they had about starting high school.
“This year, we did our first entirely virtual orientation and had close to 500 freshmen attend! We have a Link Crew “class” on Canvas that we are using to stay connected to our leaders too,” said Link Crew Coordinator, Katie Klingbeil.
As Link Crew continues throughout the school year, social and academic activities are typically held to create a bond between the freshmen and the leaders. These events help to guide freshmen in the right direction academically, as well as focus on social skills through fun games and get-togethers.
Link Crew Leaders check in with the freshmen on a regular basis. They check in four times in the first two weeks of school, and maintain two check-ins per month for the rest of the semester. This year, these check-ins might be a lunchtime Google Meet or Zoom, a text message, encouraging words, or even funny memes.
“I have freshmen that will text me if they need advice with something, or if they have questions on school work they will reach out to me because they feel comfortable with me. It’s a really good thing that freshmen feel comfortable with their leaders because that’s exactly what we are here for,” said Iyer.
In the next couple of weeks, there will be freshman hangouts to play games or have movie watch parties, as well as on-demand tutoring and help services for the students. Link Crew is very unique in the fact that students that have never met before can learn from each other’s mistakes and form a strong relationship.
“It’s cool that I get to share this knowledge because something that I always tell my freshmen is one thing I wish I knew when I was going into freshman year was to take my mental health seriously and do something about it. It’s nice to know that I can help students to not make the same mistakes that I made when I was in their position,” said Iyer.
Link Crew has made such a big impact on students’ lives and has a bright future to look forward to. Link Crew will continue to strive with helping others, despite the challenges of being online and hopes to continue with their mission of connecting with the new members of the student body.