Look out freshmen! The road to high school just got a whole lot bumpier.
As of this year, the Link Crew program at Wilson no longer exists. Only one out of the many freshmen transition activities hosted during the previous years is kept alive by the Associated Student Body (ASB).
Even so, the yearly orientation event is simply not enough to ease the arduous transition for incoming freshmen. The absence of the Link Crew program will spawn repercussions in the future, leading to an increase in emotional stress and even more difficult social adjustments for these students.
Link Crew is a nationally recognized program that focuses on easing the hardships of freshmen transition. In the past, with the many activities hosted throughout the year, freshmen can adjust with their peers and become readily acclimated to the foreign high school environment. Trained Link Crew Leaders strived to become positive role models and mentors for the incoming freshmen, and this program has proven to be effective in providing more structure for the students in terms of a strong academic and social base for their first year in high school. With that being said, freshmen transition will not be as easy as it was before.
Likewise, studies show that if students have a positive first year in high school, their success rates will increase dramatically. With this being said, Link Crew’s purpose was to support freshmen socially and academically to ensure that they are having a smooth transition with the big jump from middle school to high school. Without the periodic checkups from Link Crew Leaders, teachers may be unaware if a student is falling behind. Therefore, by establishing a connection with students on a more individual basis, leaders may decrease the emotional stress from high school due to the awareness and ability to lend a hand.
According to the Boomerang Project, a company that houses the student orientation and transition programs, certain schools experienced a 32% reduction in freshmen failure one year after the Link Crew program was established. This proves that the leader-student engagement is very beneficial in terms of helping freshmen become better students, as they are receiving more help academically and more mental support from upperclassmen.
Additionally, another repercussion is the decline in social interactions amongst new students. Before 2016, the school schedule included a PRIDE period (similar to homeroom) between fourth period and lunch. Along with the purpose of providing support for students through of daily announcements and additional tutoring, PRIDE was the one period in the day where Link Leaders could facilitate activities to increase social interactions. After PRIDE was removed, leaders started to utilize the time after school to host these activities.
For instance, events such as “Cocoa and Cram,” movie days, frosh tutoring and many more were hosted despite the removal of PRIDE. Now, without the overall program to host these activities, there is a lack of structured interactions between freshmen and the rest of the school. Since these students do not have the opportunities provided by Link Crew, it will be harder for them to go out of their comfort zone and meet other students.
Once new students step foot into our school, crowds of strangers walk by and there are barely any familiar faces. With the lack of familiarity, it makes the atmosphere of high school “scary” in the sense of that they are “alone” and have no one to go to if they need assistance of any kind.
Some might argue that, at the very least, the most important event for these students—Freshmen Orientation—is still kept intact by the student government (ASB), and they will continue to assist the freshmen in any way possible.
However, the most important thing to remember is that since Link Crew is specially geared towards freshmen, leaders were selectively chosen through an interview process and trained to become positive role models and mentors. The type of leader who Link Crew strives to recruit is not necessarily the most sociable or most outgoing, but rather the type of leader who can connect with the students on a more individual basis.
This is very different from the type of leaders our student government aims to recruit. Being in student government means having the ability to lead the school with initiative. Unfortunately, it is this exact type of leadership which makes it harder for freshmen to feel comfortable confiding in. This is why Link Crew is extremely crucial because it caters a type of “mentor” for freshmen in order to facilitate success all around.
Ultimately, it is the positive mentality and accomplishments from our Wilson freshmen that is most important. We want any incoming student to feel the security and friendliness previous generations of students have felt. We want students to be strong academically and socially, and it all starts with Link Crew.