Link Crew has been mobilized at Edison High School. This select group of juniors and seniors will mentor freshman students throughout the school year.
“They had to go through an application process last spring. I interviewed them; they had teacher recommendations. We were looking for kids who are good kids but tend to fly under the radar,” explained Link Crew Coordinator Susan Griffin.
Guided by Ms. Griffin, the upperclassmen develop the skills they will need to help the ninth graders start high school on the right path.
“We have a leadership question every morning – it’s a crazy scenario – and we work together to resolve that scenario. We then do team building activities,” said junior Link Crew member Catherine Doolay. “One morning, we went outside and did group jump roping. Another day we had to link arms – kind of like Link Crew – and we had to push each other up. So, team building activities that will help us work with our freshman to team build and work through certain problems that you have to face in high school.”
Each member of Link Crew will be assigned four or so freshmen. Every other Friday they will meet to get to know each other better.
“Everyone was very shy and didn’t necessarily want to communicate in our first meeting. We got to work one on one for about an hour with our freshman, and they opened up when we asked them simple questions like what are your favorite hobbies, what’s your favorite colors, different things like that,” said Catherine. “Since this is a middle school and a high school, most of the kids in my group have gone here since sixth grade, but they had never talked to each other. They knew of each other, but they didn’t know each other. So, they were eager to hear each other’s responses, and so was I because I never met them before.”
In between the Friday get-togethers, Link Leaders will check in with their freshman every week.
“That could be in the hall; it could be a simple text. Just a check in so the freshmen know somebody’s got their backs,” said Susan.
They will also meet up outside of school hours once a month. Sometimes these activities will be community projects; sometimes they will be school events. They decided to participate in the Alzheimer’s Walk for one of the first outings. For students in Link Crew, the most important thing is to connect with their freshmen to make the transition easier for them.
“Whenever I first heard about the opportunity of Link Crew, I thought back to whenever I first started my freshman year. I felt like I started it with kind of…imagine a box but with a lid over it. I felt like I had a lid over my box because I didn’t know anyone. I wanted to participate in a lot of things throughout the school, but I didn’t know who to reach out to, who to ask to get more involved in things like that,” said senior Makayla Ewen. “I didn’t want freshman coming in to feel like they had a lid on their box. I wanted to be able to be one of the people who comes up to them, smiles and says ‘Hey, how are you doing? Do you know about these things happening in the school? Do you want to participate? You don’t want to participate? That’s fine.’ Just so they know what’s out there because I find that really important.”
The staff hopes to see similar effects at Edison that the Link Crew program has had at other schools across the country: better attendance, higher grades, fewer discipline problems, and a more positive atmosphere.
“I tell my students: in doing this, they’re not following in anybody else’s footsteps, they are creating the footsteps,” said Susan. “They may not see the results. The results are going to show up three years from now. Dreams aren’t something that happen overnight.”
The students in Link Crew are excited to impart the wisdom they have learned during their time at Edison to the class of 2023.
“To anybody at a new school or starting freshman year, be yourself,” said junior Renee Gauger. “In high school, your friends do determine your future. If you get with a really toxic and bad group of friends, I would suggest getting out of that group of friends. [Friends] will either help you through trouble or they will get you into trouble. Also, in general, just be honest to yourself.”
Students can apply to be a part of the 2020-2021 Link Crew in March. For more information about the program, email Susan Griffin at firstname.lastname@example.org.