Link Crew, the national orientation and mentoring program, is in its eighth year at West Hartford’s Hall High School and its fourth year at Conard High School.
By Ronni Newton
The first day of high school can be a scary occasion for an incoming freshman, but for the eighth year in a row, a dedicated group of upperclassmen at West Hartford’s Hall High School have gone out of their way to ensure a smooth transition.
Through Link Crew, a national program focused on orienting and mentoring new high school students, incoming freshmen are made to feel welcomed and comfortable in their new surroundings before school begins, so that they can avoid that “deer in the headlights” look on the first day of classes.
This year there were 84 junior and senior leaders – clad in bright green shirts with the words “Creating Bonds Since 2011” onthe back – at Hall to greet a group of 395 freshmen on Monday, Aug. 27. As a large group, and broken down into 28 smaller orientation groups, the Link Crew leaders led the new students in ice-breakers and bonding activities, as well as tours of the school, designed to make the transition to Hall a whole lot easier.
Hall math teacher Christina Hunter, along with science teachers Nora McHugh and Anthony Wasley, returned as Link Crew advisors this year. They selected and trained the juniors and seniors using the guidelines of the national Link Crew leadership and mentoring training program. The application process to become a Link Crew leader is thorough, and those selected as leaders undergo 10 hours of training – while they are on summer vacation – before participating in the two-day orientation with the new students.
Hunter said that Link Crew doesn’t stop with orientation, but rather sets the tone for a successful year with academic and social activities. “Leaders will both visit their freshmen in Advisory Homeroom and facilitate activities with them to support their success in year one of high school,” she said.
“We are excited to host our annual Freshman Tailgate on Friday, Sept. 14 before the home opener football game vs. Enfield,” Hunter added.
For the second year in a row, Hall will also be hosting the New England Regional Link Leader Student Conference this October. “Link Crews from all over New England are invited to attend so that we may further develop their leadership skills for their year-long position as mentors,” Hunter said.
Following the success of Hall, West Hartford’s Conard High School also implemented a Link Crew program which follows a similar format and is now in its fourth year. Hunter said that Northwest Catholic High School in West Hartford added a Link Crew program for the first time this year.
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