Link Crew orientation eases tensions among freshmen

Sara Deeter finds her way across a path of white papers with help from fellow students in the AHS orientation coordinated by student leader and staff of Link Crew.  - SAFA PINKENS for The Arlington Times
Sara Deeter finds her way across a path of white papers with help from fellow students in the AHS orientation coordinated by student leader and staff of Link Crew.
— image credit: SAFA PINKENS for The Arlington Times

ARLINGTON — In order to help the freshmen feel comfortable at high school, the Arlington High School Link Crew planned a fun day of orientation on their first day of school.

“I saw the Link Crew leaders on Freshman Orientation Day and they really inspired me to do it,” said Chelsea Lubong, a student at Arlington High School who was a Link Crew leader during this year’s events.

Every year Arlington participates in a nationwide program designed to acclimate freshmen to the high school environment on their first day of school.

This year’s orientation on Sept. 3 was noticeably different than last year.

“We tried to do more this year than any other year,” said Faye Britt, vice principal at AHS who is in charge of finding financial and administrative support for the event.

The group aimed to make their efforts as effective as possible.

“I feel that is where we are going this year with the ongoing activities,” Britt said.

Along with the first day orientation, activities have been planned throughout the year, including a back-to-school dance, a movie night and a cocoa study night before finals.

Despite the value of continued support, the first day was the most important, according to teacher Ben Ballew.

“That’s when the teachers and students alike were setting [the freshmen] up for success right from the start,” Ballew said.

“Make memories — you have four years to do so — start now,” he urged the freshman class, telling them to be involved in their school and step out of their comfort zone.

“I like the idea of connecting the freshmen to the school,” said Jeff Keeley, an AHS teacher who was in charge of organizing the paperwork and supplies for the huge event. His attraction to the organization is shared by the Link Crew leaders, students who guided the freshmen around the school and in games designed to encourage them to seek a positive high school experience.

“Having the Link Crew and getting to know people I didn’t know, that really helped me to make friends. I wanted to return the favor,” said Rebecca Victory, a Link Crew leader.

Two Link Crew leaders led each small group of freshmen as they played a disorienting name game and other activities that challenged them to work together, resulting in frequent bursts of laughter.

Each group was unique, as each pair of Link Crew leaders contributed an activity of their own. One group made distinctive hats fashioned from tin foil, another wore brightly colored leis, and yet another danced down the hall in a line during their tour.

The experience affected many of the freshmen positively.

Brandon Rollins said that the orientation helped him “see what high school is going to be like. Now I am not so nervous.”

“I gained more knowledge about the school and about the teachers,” said Katelyn Henderson.

Not only did Link Crew leaders supply vital information about the school, they also suggested a few attributes that would assist the freshmen in their high school careers. They explained how it was important to have fun, be involved, work hard, include others and, among other points, be yourself.

“It made me feel like myself a little more,” said Sonya Suderman.

“High school — it gives back to you exactly what you put into it,” Luke Gettmann said to his group.

A Link Crew leader with Gettmann, Alexa Soriano told the freshmen that in her first year or two of high school she wasn’t as involved and outgoing as she is now.

“I felt like I was part of the school but I wasn’t part of the family,” Soriano said.

In one of the many activities, the freshmen had to find a path across blank sheets of paper using a guess-and-check method, relying on their group members for help.

“In high school, you really need to find people you can lean on like teachers and friends because otherwise you are walking a white path,” Soriano said.

On Safa Pinkens, AHS correspondent to The Arlington Times.

Safa Pinkens is a junior at Arlington High School with 3.98 GPA who has volunteered to be a correspondent to The Arlington Times on high school news. She runs track and was involved in the school play last spring.

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