Link Crew Eases Transition to PHS For New Students
By Sophia Walcher
On the days leading up to the start of the school year, you can be sure to find incoming students soaking up the last rays that summer has to offer.
Experiencing a multitude of last bonfires, pool parties, and late night gatherings before is critical before the all too familiar alarm clock chimes and homework-induced sleep deprivations come flooding back.
The last place you’d expect a teenager to be on the final day of summer is at school, but that’s where 4 advisers, 113 upperclassmen, and 448 freshman found themselves on August 15th.
The reason? To be introduced and immersed into the Link Crew program of the 2017-18 school year.
What is Link Crew? Created by The Boomerang Project, Link Crew is a transitional program designed to help incoming freshman become acclimated to high school life.
“Here at Perrysburg, we also included transfer students to help them get acclimated to our school” says social studies teacher Chris Stein. He, along with Mrs. Dawn Burks, Mrs. Erin Gallagher, Mrs. Lindsay Czech, and Mr. Thom Ziems are the advisors and brains of the operation.
Stein adds, “Mrs. Burks and Mrs. Czech really pushed for the program to be brought to Perrysburg. Dr. Short had witnessed its implementation at another school but said they lacked the support programs to keep it going. With Jacket Way and our class meetings in place, he felt it was the right time to bring Link Crew to Perrysburg.”
And so Link Crew was brought. Freshman and transfer students now stood packed in the auditorium, soon to be placed into their own link crew groups and given a taste into what the next four years of their lives will be like.
The outcome that we see for freshman is to bring them into the fold quicker. “They seemed much more comfortable from day one. Same for the transfers. Questions were asked and answered, freshman and transfers seemed more at ease” says Stein.
“Another positive in the program is the contribution of Link Leaders from the Junior and senior classes. We had close to 160 students apply last year and unfortunately had to cut close to 40 students, who were all great students.”
As for these 113 Link Leaders, they have been working since the end of the previous school year. From being interviewed and participating in a May development day, to having five hour long training days the weekend before school began, the advisors made sure these students were as prepared as possible from the get-go.
For Link Leader and senior Jalisia Goodman, being a Link Leader is kind of like learning how to swim then being thrown into the middle of the ocean; you know you can swim and have all the tools to be fine but it’s a little overwhelming. The training definitely made the entire process easier and gave me the confidence to lead my group of freshmen with ease. The training forced us leaders to go out of our comfort zones, which is something we always ask of the freshmen and transfers.
It’s a big responsibility since it’s just us (link leaders) and the freshmen but it’s a welcome one because we’re giving them a resource of sorts, something we didn’t have. Our coaches prepared us as much as they could have during training and now it’s up to us to implement what we were taught, while adding in our own personalities, to help the newest members to our Yellow Jacket family.
Help. That is precisely what the newest members of the Yellow Jacket family received on orientation day. Groups of 2 to 3 Link Leaders teamed up to be in charge of groups of 10-20 freshman and transfer students to show them around PHS and act as mentors throughout the rest of the day and their starting year. Activities, discussion, and connectivity were all crucial aspects of the day as the new PHS students toured the school, walked their schedules, and got to know their Leaders.
With the freshman entering the gymnasium on the first day through a tunnel of Link Leaders dancing to catchy pop tunes and going on creatively themed guides of the school, it is easy to think that it might be all fun and games. However, there is a greater goal in mind: “I hope the freshmen recognize the genuine interest we have in helping them.
I know it’s awkward because right now they don’t really know us, but in the future I want them to text me if they have questions and say hi in the hallways” says Goodman. “I want the freshmen to know they’re seriously not alone and they don’t have to try and struggle alone either.”
With Link Crew continuing throughout the school year, this goal will hopefully be achieved. There was recently a freshman tailgate at the Perrysburg v. SJJ game, and there are plans for a “freshman fling” dance as well as a possible transfer student luncheon. Along with that, Link Crew members will be running the sophomore and freshman Jacket Way meetings throughout the year.
Thus far, the program has been met with success. “I think Link Crew has done a great job this year!” says freshman Mason Reisinger. “I can see they are working hard to make high school great for everyone.”
“The four of us (Burks, Ziems, Gallagher, Stein) are continuously looking to make Link Crew better” Stein emphasizes. “We know there are always areas to improve and want to make things better. We had great support from custodians, administration, teachers, attendance, secretaries, guidance, cafeteria staff, students and many others.” With such a great support system from faculty and community, Link Crew is sure to be a continued success throughout the school year and for many school years to come.
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