New Link Crew to Start This Upcoming Year

The Link Crew will give freshman the opportunity to be mentored by upperclassmen.

New Link Crew to Start This Upcoming Year

Elly Keyes, Reporter

Most of us remember the first day of freshmen year. The panic as you attempted to navigate the long hallways to find your classrooms. The uncertainty when you got to lunch as you searched for a familiar face. In preparation for the next school year, Shawnee Heights is implementing a program called Link Crew. Link Crew is a program in which juniors and seniors are called on to mentor the incoming freshmen class. They are expected to lead a small group of freshmen through their first year, including answering questions, showing them around, and providing new students with a friendly face in the crowded hallways.

“I think mostly (freshmen) are just not quite sure where they fit, and Link Crew gives them a place to fit automatically from day one. They are with the same Link Leader all year and the same group of other freshmen, and so it’s just a smaller community for them to belong to,” Ms. Diane Morgan said.

As a founder of the Link Crew group where she previously taught, Ms. Morgan was prepared to join in as the program was implemented at Shawnee Heights and share everything she had learned. Ms. Morgan, Ms. Sloan, Ms. Wilson, and Mr. Spade volunteered to form a committee after they were approached with the idea in January. Their first step was to attend the training held by the Boomerang Project, an organization that coordinates Link Crew in high schools across the U.S. 

“One of the coolest parts about it was that the first thing we did was assimilation– We were freshmen on orientation day– so the big focus of this program is helping freshmen feel welcomed and invited right off the bat on their first day,” Ms. Tiffany Sloan said.

The teachers hope to form a group of about 60 students who will prepare to mentor the incoming class. Above all, they are looking for students who are kind, positive role models, and ready leaders. They must also be willing to open up about their own struggles as freshmen, and always be available to help with any concerns a younger student might have. 

“A Link Leader needs to be outgoing and willing to take risks as far as relationships go. As far as not feeling shy about sharing their own personal experiences because I think that’s how the freshmen are going to make strong connections with them,” Ms. Morgan said.

However, the job of a Link Crew Leader is not only to answer questions, but also to provide their group with a positive role model. Staff hopes Shawnee Heights will see some of the successes taking place in other schools who have Link Crew, such as a decrease in truancies and suspensions among the freshmen class.

“My hope is that this program will help freshmen figure out that grades matter in high school. That what they do starting out freshmen year really does matter. It might help them have an older mentor that explains to them how grades work, how transcripts work. How if you start out failing all your classes, it will be challenging to try and catch up and graduate with your class,” Ms. Sharon Wilson said. “Then there’s the simple questions that come up the first day of school: when do I eat lunch, and who do I sit with, where do the freshmen hang out, and make it less scary for the freshmen that first week of school if they feel they have an upperclassman they can talk to and navigate things that way, because we know that talking to an adult or teacher is kind of scary, but talking to an upperclassman who is designated as their leader will make it a little less scary.” 

The committee asked teachers to submit their recommendations, and these students will be personally invited to meet with them, however, they did not want to limit the number of students that can apply. Any students who are going into junior and senior year will be able to pick up an application from the Main Office or Counseling Center. Everyone who applies will be given a tryout on April 6th, and training begins in August.