HomeCity NewsSMHS Link Crew Helps Transition New Students, Incoming Freshmen

SMHS Link Crew Helps Transition New Students, Incoming Freshmen

San Marino High School’s Link Crew program returned for the 2016-17 school year with numerous students eager to lend a hand.

Link Crew, which was re-established at SMHS last school year, is a transition program that pairs incoming freshmen and new students with upperclassmen to help them throughout their first year in high school.

“The overriding purpose of the program is to help with the successful transition to high school,” Link Crew coordinator Laura Ives said. “It’s basically like a mentoring program where every new student and freshman is assigned to upperclassmen—junior and senior leaders. They mentor them throughout the year and make sure things are going smoothly, help them get adjusted to the high school and answer questions.”

Link Crew orientation was held Friday, Aug. 12 when the high school’s incoming freshmen and new students participated in numerous team-building exercises with their Link Crew leaders, who are the upperclassmen.

“We do all of these team-building games where the students can talk about the struggles of being a freshman,” Link Crew coordinator Courtney Rushing said.

She said they also get a list compiled by SMHS students of what every freshman should know.

SMHS Principal Mary Johnson said she’s very proud of everyone involved in Link Crew and is very impressed how much the upperclassmen embrace the opportunity to help new students and freshmen.

“They feel part of the community because of the amazing job that Link Crew does transitioning them,” she said, adding that the new students should feel like “real Titans” by the end of the first day.

The new students and freshmen were taken on a campus tour and lunch was provided to them from a taco truck.

Rushing said, “The Link Crew leaders stick with their groups. They give them the tour. They get their registration with them and help them get their books.”

Link Crew coordinator José Caire had the same role approximately 15 years ago when SMHS had the program before it was discontinued because of lack of funding. He said the relaunch of the Link Crew program has been successful.

“Obviously we can do better every year,” Caire said. “We brought it back last year and we have some glitches that we’re working on. The kids are excited. We did hear from the freshmen who are now sophomores that they felt like having someone approach them every so often and knowing that they are part of a smaller group that they could always go to was really effective.”

Robbin McCulloch just began coordinating Link Crew this year because she wants to become more involved within the school.

“Link Crew is a good way to start with that—especially by getting to know the incoming freshman,” she said, adding that she’d like so see Link Crew go on off-campus field trips.

There were 190 applications by SMHS upperclassmen to become Link Crew leaders this time around.

“We could only take 75,” Rushing said. “It was amazing and heartbreaking. We had to say ‘no’ to a lot of amazing kids.”

“We have a much larger pool,” Ives said. “We have a lot of returning leaders from last year who came back.”

All freshmen and new students are divided into groups with the Link Crew leaders.

“There are two Link leaders and eight freshmen or new students per group,” Rushing said.

The application process involved a teacher recommendation letter and questionnaires.

The Link Crew leaders have training booklets that they follow and attend three days of training during the summer.

Maria Velasco, who is a 2016 SMHS graduate and was a Link Crew leader last year, returned to her former high school last Friday—a day before she headed off to her freshman year at the University of Colorado, Boulder—to offer assistance with Link Crew.

“I loved the program because I didn’t have this when I came here,” she said.

SMHS senior Alyssa Leung became a Link Crew leader for the first time this school year.

“It’s a really good opportunity to get to know underclassmen,” she said. “I know during freshman year, me and my friends were all really nervous and didn’t know where to go. Even though the orientation was helpful, we really didn’t get to know the upperclassmen.”

SMHS freshman Alex Poiset said Link Crew helped her so she wasn’t lost on her first day.

“It was really helpful,” her classmate Briana Cossu said. “It was a good way to start the new year.”

Ives said Link Crew went well last year and the many events held throughout the school year were well attended.

Rushing said Link Crew sent out exit interviews to SMHS freshmen and new students who went through the program to see what they liked.

“The comments were overwhelmingly positive,” she said. “I was crying when I was reading them.”

Rushing said some of the comments were: “I knew I had someone to go to,” “I wasn’t so nervous on the first day of school,” “I was so comfortable” and “I knew what clubs to join.”

Link Crew is offered to high schools internationally through an education company called The Boomerang Project.

Ives is a career counselor at SMHS; Caire is the school’s activities director and McCullough and Rushing are teachers in the school’s career and technical education program.

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