Freshman experience improved by Link Program

September 12, 2008 — by Rebecca Nguyen and Melody Zhang

The class of 2012 timidly filed into the large gym on Aug. 22 for the first time as high school students. Unsure of what exactly was planned for them, they were placed in the care of 104 Link Leaders for the day, who led them through a series of activities and a tour of the school.

Guidance counselors Alinna Satake and Frances Saiki, the newly appointed co-director, revamped the Link Crew program to be more effective this year. To help Link Crew run more smoothly, three commissioner positions were created and filled by juniors Rebecca Amato, Nathan Kim and senior Stacy Ku. Sophomores Harshil Sahai, Jenny Zhang, Mikaela Burton and Shannon Galvin formed a new administrative team.

Each commissioner was assigned a group of Link Leaders to assist, which helped prevent the Link directors from being overburdened. The administrative team, which is also known as the A-Team, helped with organization, training and the freshman orientation by setting up the groundwork for the program. Their responsibilities included making the Link Crew binders and checking up on the different Link groups throughout the orientation.

Other improvements included the placement of freshmen into their different Link groups. Last year, freshmen were placed randomly into their groups, but this year, they were sorted according to their extracurriculars and interests to help them feel more familiar with their new settings.

“I think the freshmen should really be able to relate to their Link Leaders,” said junior Link Leader Cindy Chang. “Sorting them into groups based on their interests and extracurriculars is a good idea, as it helps us Link Leaders get to know our kids better.”

The Link Leaders will be dedicating the rest of their school year to “[helping] students to get connected” and to “[leading] by example” as the new Link Crew themes state. Aside from helping out at freshman orientation, they also help at Back to School Night and are expected to keep in contact with their “links” throughout the school year. A freshman-to-sophomore transition activity is also in the making, according to Satake.

Freshmen are required to attend Monday tutorials with their Link Leaders during the first three Mondays of school, down from six last year. Link Leaders and the teachers in charge of their classroom planned activities for the freshmen to make them feel more comfortable and open to asking for help.

Despite the Link directors’ attempts to run the freshman orientation as smoothly as possible, one of the problems they encountered was a controversial introduction by the rally commissioners, who had sarcastically welcomed the freshmen to the school during the first rally.

“I’m sure there was no malicious intent [in their speech],” said Satake, “but I also think we can all continue to learn how to comport ourselves with greater professionalism in the future.”

Although the directors would appreciate more seriousness, the Link Leaders tried their best to loosen up the freshmen at orientation by handing out themed costumes and accessories for their groups.

“[My Link Leaders] brought in scooters for us to ride around school,” said freshman Connor Mullaney. “They were really nice to us. They were helping us a lot, telling us what’s going on with this school. I feel a little bit more comfortable.”

Overall, the freshman orientation was a well-received success.

“Everyone had a lot of fun just hanging out with freshmen,” said senior Link Leader Sarah Tang. “Afterwards we got to chill around at school.”

A year-long effort, the Link Crew program hopes to eventually successfully integrate the new students into the high school community.

“I do think that, over time, we will grow closer and the freshmen will genuinely appreciate and enjoy their Link Crew sessions,” said junior Link Leader Ashwin Siripurapu.