Class of 2017 Links Up

Alison Kuznitz
EE Senior Opinions Editor

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s superman…No, it’s Link Crew leaders taking on the characteristics of superheroes for the best possible orientation for freshmen!

Link Crew Orientation was successfully held on Friday, August 30th, from period 5 through the end of the school day. The event kicked off with a sea of vibrant blue Superman shirts ushering freshmen into the auditorium with overwhelming cheers and applause. After a few short activities inside, over 500 freshmen were split into 68 crews and led to the fields behind the tennis courts. A variety of team-building activities ensued that represented the difficulties freshman will soon encounter in their high school career. Freshmen Orientation is just the first of many phases to support and ease freshman into the overwhelming transition from middle school to high school.

 

“Freshmen Orientation is important because it signifies not only a positive and welcoming atmosphere for the incoming freshmen, but it signifies the first big event they took part in as a whole class,” stated senior and Link Crew Commissioner Joey Matera. “The way Link Crew runs just takes Freshmen Orientation to a whole new level, from cheering on the freshmen as they first walk in to Mrs. Intemann’s closing presentation.”

One of the most popular games by far at orientation is “Team Juggling.” Each crew of about seven to eight freshman plus its two Link Leaders begin by passing one ball to each other. As the game continues, three more balls are added and this is where the juggling comes into play. It quickly becomes utter chaos as balls fly everywhere and people are frantically calling out their crew members’ names.

Of course Link Crew strives to create a fun and enjoyable experience for freshman. However, there is actually a deeper meaning to this game in particular. It reflects how important “juggling” is to high school. Freshmen must learn to find a balance in their schoolwork and extracurricular activities. Not to mention, “Team Juggling,” gives the crew a better sense of unity.

“Activities progress from group success and failure to individual success,” said Link Crew Coordinator, Mrs. Intemann. “Every activity has a success connection.”

Throughout orientation, the energy that began in the auditorium surged on and created an extremely upbeat environment. The enthusiasm was practically tangible amongst the majority of Link Leaders and freshmen, which enhanced the productivity of Freshman Orientation. Additionally, it significantly helped Link Crew achieve its mission and goals.

According to Link Crew Coordinator Mrs. DeNunzio,“My favorite part about orientation was the freshman’s energy and the way the Link Leaders helped to create that energy.”

Similar to the way “Team Juggling” is the most popular, “WEFSs” have proven to be highly informative. This acronym stands for “What Every Freshman Should Know,” and sheets with pertinent facts regarding THS are passed out to every freshman in the crew. Freshman Nicole Thompson found WEFSK and the overall orientation very helpful.

“I met new people and the sheet about what freshmen need to know helped a lot. …It was positive and the orientation did help me,” said Thompson.

Besides “Team Juggling” and “WEFSK” other activities included “Count Off,” where the crew must count consecutively from one to twenty. This may not seem challenging at first, but the teaser is that the group cannot discuss strategy or follow any patterns when calling out numbers. Also, “Lifestory,” “Name Tag,” and “Questions List” allow the crew to learn personal information about one another and connect on a deeper level.

These activities are Link Crew Coordinator Mr. Artese’s favorite part of the entire orientation. He truly appreciates how these games are designed to forge connections and new relationships.

“That’s what Link Crew is all about: taking people that didn’t know each other and giving them the opportunity to have fun,” said Mr. Artese.

Although Link Crew hosted a positive and effective Freshman Orientation, there are still several aspects they would like to improve upon for next year. The main goal is to hold orientation before the first day of school. This will cause the freshmen to feel more comfortable and be aware that they can rely on Link Crew as their support system.

“It is important for them to know that they belong here,” stated Mrs. DeNunzio. “This would be incredibly helpful to give freshmen a sense of belonging.”

If construction does not continue to interfere with Link Crew’s plans, hopefully freshman orientation will be able to occur before the start of the next school year. A tour, another highlight that Link Crew is looking forward to, will also be made possible if this is the case. Considering THS is such a large school and that the hallways now look the same without any distinctive differences, a tour is absolutely critical.

Many people wrongly assume that Link Crew is primarily focused on this one event each year. Actually, Link Crew is designed as an all-year program that continuously aids freshman with any struggles or transitional issues. Mrs. Intemman introduced Link Crew, a subdivision of the Boomerang Project, to THS four years ago. This program is a nationwide and global initiative for freshmen. All three Link Coordinators – Mrs. Intemann, Mr. Artese, and Mrs. DeNunzio- attended special four day training sessions and then passed on their knowledge to the Link Leaders. Every Link Crew follows the same curriculum, and therefore the programs are very similar from high school to high school.

“This program is not just about orientation, it’s supposed to be all year,” commented Mrs. Intemann. “[It] offers icebreakers, connection, inspiration, new friendships, and a positive approach to high school.”

Link Crew conducts follow-ups in academic classes, Coco and Cram for midterms, a study session for finals, the Link Crew “Help Desk” every Friday and more.

Link Leaders are encouraged to remain in contact with their freshman throughout the school year and stay active in their leadership roles.

“ Link Crew is there every step of the way…to support freshmen and to make sure they are successful academically and socially,” added Mr. Artese.

Aspiring Link Leaders should realize the high level of commitment that this club demands before they consider applying for a position. For instance, on the last week of summer vacation, Link Leaders have to attend two five hour training sessions early in morning. An earlier training session was conducted in May, where leaders had to miss their last few classes of the day. During the first week of school, leaders are expected to wear their T-shirts everyday, along with giving directions and even leading freshman to their classes as well. They also have to participate in the year-round activities stated above, while having a positive, confident attitude. Furthermore, they always need to exhibit a willingness to commit to the program and their freshmen.

Jessica Deaky, a senior and Link Crew Commissioner, advises underclassmen to take on the qualities of a leader, or in this year’s case, a hero like Superman. She encourages students to “build a friendly relationship” with freshmen.

Moreover, Matera wanted to share a few words of advice for students who hope to join Link Crew as well.

“If you’re not enthusiastic and you are not ready to make a commitment, don’t choose Link Crew. Link Crew will only succeed with positive people ready to do what it takes to ensure comfort in the freshmen,” said Matera. “Freshmen come before Leaders.”

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