Link Crew help freshmen adjust to high school expectations

Graschelle Hipolito and Brooke Shimasaki

Entering high school is a major milestone in a teenager’s life, but an unfamiliar environment and shift in workload or expectations can prove intimidating to some students.

Common adversities freshmen face as they embark on the beginning of their high school careers include time management, meeting new people and being able to maintain decent grades.

The Link Crew program serves to welcome freshmen and guide them through the transition from middle school to high school. Starting from freshman orientation over the summer until the end of the school year, Link Crew leaders mentor freshmen by preparing classroom presentations, activities, and one-on-one quarterly interviews to monitor their progress. However, not all freshmen have found the program helpful.

“Link Crew interviews felt very impersonal,” sophomore Alexis King said. “[The advice] was very repetitive and I felt as though they only did it because they had to.”

Last year, the freshman class of 2017 earned the infamous title of “the failing freshmen.” The general lack of ambition throughout the class of 2017 was a concern for both teachers and administration.

“There was a higher number than usual of students who weren’t trying [or] didn’t have the motivation to try,” Link Crew adviser Brenda Heinrich said. “It was the first year I remember…Link [Crew] leaders reporting back to me that…some [freshmen] were already planning on dropping out.”
Noticing the jeopardy, Link Crew took action. Link Crew held an assembly for freshmen to raise awareness of the reputation they were creating for themselves and to find ways to drive them toward more successful paths.

“The intervention motivated me and the speaker pushed me to work harder academically because he was so successful,” sophomore Ryan Lam said.
Students in Link Crew strive to be kind, yet assertive leaders in order to give freshmen the push they need to succeed. They participate in classroom activities and leadership camp to learn how to build connections with each other and apply those tactics when approaching their freshmen.

“I try not to act like I’m above them,” senior Link Crew leader Kehaulani Prodigalidad said. “With whatever situation they’re facing, I’d try my best to understand it first, then figure out and ask them what I can do to help. [As a Link Crew leader], you have to let them know that you’re there and be ready when they are. Your words should be synonymous with your actions.”

As a freshman, an important principle in creating a strong foundation for high school success is motivation. Link Crew leaders are expected to demonstrate role-model behavior and facilitate their freshmen’s first year by providing expertise, tips or advice when necessary.

“I really think Link Crew helps if the freshman is willing to accept the help,” junior Link Crew leader Mason Moreno said. “We tried to address the problem, but a lot of freshmen last year didn’t want anything to do with us.”

Patience and understanding are key to establishing a trustworthy bond between a freshman and his or her Link Crew leader. The leaders hope to be viewed not as superiors asserting authority over the freshmen, but as relatable friends.

“We do our best to show them that things can get better and that not everyone will be against them,” Prodigalidad said. “I really hope that they realize what we do.”

In the first semester of the 2013-2014 school year, freshmen earned 216 D’s and F’s. After the first semester, freshmen showed a dramatic improvement with 66 earning D’s and F’s.

“There was more work in high school,” sophomore Jason Jimenez said when thinking back on his freshman year. Jimenez said that his freshman year was a learning experience and he now knows “not to procrastinate.”