The student news site of Whitney High School in Rocklin, Calif.

Whitney Update

The student news site of Whitney High School in Rocklin, Calif.

Whitney Update

The student news site of Whitney High School in Rocklin, Calif.

Whitney Update

Link Crew sees to new revisions to strengthen connections between freshmen and upperclassmen

Closing Freshman Orientation Aug. 14, Link Crew Leader Izzy Soto, Kaylee Holyoak and Tex Hoehne hand out class shirts to incoming freshmen. “The small room activities were super fun and my small group was good, they had great conversations, contributed and no one felt judged. It was just a safe space,” Soto said. Photo by Allie Bosano.

Arriving on campus for the first time, freshmen are often overwhelmed by the sea of unfamiliar faces and a new campus. In an effort to ease this transition, Link Crew has made some additions to their program in the form of check-ins and bonding opportunities throughout the year.

With the program being on and off for years, Link Crew was created as a way for incoming freshmen to warm up to each other and adjust to a new school. Since then, Freshmen Orientation has shifted less from informational day to one filled with games and activities.

Mr. Jesse Armas did [check-ins] for a handful of years and then we decided to go back to think about the crew,” Link Crew Director Meredith Kane said. “It was actually something I went to an official training for three days in Santa Cruz the year before, and it’s a true program, so we decided to go back to Link Crew to get back to the roots of underclassmen.”

Link Crew leaders put 10 hours of their time over the summer into a curriculum of games, exercises and activities to create a sense of comfort for the incoming freshmen. One of the activities led was based around learning the names of their peers. Participants stood in a circle and took turns naming each person. By the end of the day, the goal was to feel a sense of familiarity and respect with each other as well as build strong foundations within their relationships. 

“I wanted to be a Link Crew leader because I wanted to give the freshman a real understanding and perspective of high school by being the first impression of what they will be around for the next four years,” Juliana Roberson said. 

Incorporating more social events, Kane has added check-in days on campus to ensure the freshmen are comfortable with their new surroundings. This starts off with two in the fall semester, and is built for them to be informed about upcoming events and teach them about different expectations on campus. 

“It helped me feel better at school, getting in, knowing some people before and feeling more connected,” Aravind Vinnakota said.

Aiming to build their connections further throughout the year, Link Crew Leaders are planning a tailgate Aug. 31 that will include a barbecue at the frosh/soph football game to motivate freshmen to attend more events. 

“I think that Link Crew helps the freshman have a taste of the big things like what the campus looks like, where their classes could be, and the kind of things we do here at Whitney. I think continuing these connections with more activities and follow-ups could develop an even stronger connection between freshmen and upperclassmen,” Roberson said.

Through these activities and meet-ups, the program gives freshmen a better understanding of what the next four years will look like. With different activities like dancing in front of the group to name building activities, participants were encouraged to connect with other students.

“We want to keep having time for connections with the students so ninth graders can feel like their Link Leaders are involved and are there for them and the more we do the follow-ups, the more they know they are not alone at the school and there are people there to help,” Kane said.

Kane plans to include more check-ins during the spring semester after trial and error, keeping in mind not to extend the program until it becomes too large.

“I love to see the little freshmen as they come. I love seeing our upperclassmen put in time and effort into helping these kids, that’s the coolest thing I get to witness. These kids aren’t getting paid; they devote their own time to helping these ninth graders. That’s the best part of it,” Kane said. 



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