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Link Crew eases high school transition

Upperclassmen help guide frosh

by: Photo by Susan Matheny - Link Crew members Yesenia Salgado, second from left, and Ryan Fine, help freshmen try to organize themselves by birth date without talking.

Imagine being welcomed to your first day of high school with cheering from a crowd of upper classmen wearing T-shirts stating "L.C. loves Freshmen."
   The L.C. stands for Link Crew, which is in its seventh year of welcoming frosh to Madras High School. Members must be juniors or seniors, and go through training to join.
   At orientation Sept. 7, for this year's 243 freshmen, the 36 Link Crew members led groups of frosh in a series of games in the gym, while advisors Sue Young and Sharon Brown made comments, connecting the games to high school life.
   One game had long rows of frosh arrange themselves by birth date without talking.
   "I noticed some of you changed your birthday so you could be with your friends," Young commented. "If you're willing to change your birthday, what other things are you going to do just to be with friends," she asked, drilling in a lesson on making good choices.
   Members of Link Crew keep in contact with their assigned group of freshmen all year long, giving short presentations in guiderooms on tips for success in school, congratulating students for a paper well-done, or talking to them about attendance problems.
   Crew leader Aaron St. John joined the group two years ago. He had been homeschooled, and his freshman year was his first time in public school.
   "Link Crew helped me get out of my comfort zone, and I wanted to help incoming freshmen be comfortable at high school," St. John said, explaining why he joined.
   This is junior Laura Garcia's first year in Link Crew. She said as a freshman she was quiet and didn't talk much. But during freshman orientation, she remembered Mrs. Brown saying, "There are three types of people: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened."
   "I was tired of always watching. This was high school and I could make a fresh start and be a new person," Garcia told herself.
   "I joined more clubs, but had to wait until I was a junior to join Link Crew to help change someone else's perspective of who they are," she said.
   Garcia blossomed, joining eight clubs including FBLA, SkillsUSA, SMILE, Drama, Book Club, Pep Band, Link Crew, and this year is a student body officer in charge of advertising.
   The Link Crew hosts various activities during the school year, like "Cookies, Cocoa and Cram," afterschool study sessions before midterms.
   At the end of last week, they invited freshmen to "ICS Testing." When the frosh arrived, they discovered ICS stands for "Ice Cream Social" and the event was to celebrate them surviving the first week of high school.
   Freshman Jessica Gonzales said the Link Crew orientation day helped her adjust.
   "At first I was really nervous and unsure about high school and what we were doing. But after I met my Link Crew leader, I gained a little more confidence," she said.
   "I got lost at first, but they gave us a tour of the school. We did a lot of activities and got to know other freshmen. It was pretty fun," Gonzales said.