Link Crew, the national orientation and mentoring program, is in its ninth year at West Hartford’s Hall High School and its fifth year at Conard High School.
By Ronni Newton
The days of seniors intimidating incoming high school freshmen by giving them misleading information are long gone at West Hartford’s Hall High School, where a dedicated group of upperclassmen instead are trained to help new students have a smooth transition.
This week marked the ninth year that Hall has run Link Crew, a national program focused on orienting and mentoring new high school students. The goal is to have freshmen feel welcome and comfortable, so 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 black shirts with the words “I’ll Be There For You” on the back – at Hall to greet a group of nearly 400 freshmen on Monday, Aug. 26. As a large group, and broken down into smaller orientation groups, the Link Crew leaders led the new students in ice-breakers and and other get-to-know-you and bonding activities to establish what will be a yearlong relationship – and hopefully a friendship – between the Link Leaders and the freshmen, said Hall math teacher Christina Hunter, one of the Link Crew coordinators.
The freshmen also got tours of Hall so they could find their lockers and classrooms.
“These same leaders will see their freshmen mentees once a month in Advisory where they will facilitate activities that help with the transition to high school,” Hunter said.
Hunter said that Link Crew doesn’t stop with orientation, or even the Advisory meetings, but rather sets the tone for a successful year with academic and social activities.
In addition to Hunter, science teachers Nora McHugh and Anthony Wasley once again returned as Link Crew advisors. 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.
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 fifth year. Northwest Catholic High School in West Hartford added a Link Crew program last year.
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