Link proves successful despite major changes

September 9, 2019 — by Shama Gupta and Harshini Velchamy

A group of 12 freshmen and four Link leaders sat in a circle on the gym floor on the morning of Aug. 14 asking and answering questions about themselves. Throughout the day, the freshmen played numerous icebreaker games, learned more about the school and got to know their classmates. 

 This year, two new adult Link Crew leaders,  Helen Jarrett, a parent and substitute teacher, and staff member Marina Barnes, made significant changes to both the games played and the way groups were arranged. 

In previous years, Link Crew leaders were able to choose partners before being assigned relatively small groups of four to five freshmen. This year, however, Link leaders were randomly put into groups of four and were responsible for a group of a dozen  freshmen.

“We wanted the Link Crew leaders to get something out of it as well,” Jarrett said. “No matter who you work with on a project, you should be able to connect and make it work.”

Although the change was initially unpopular among Link leaders, junior Allison Ha felt that it didn’t actually make too big of a difference in her situation. Despite not being able to work with people of her choice, Ha knew three of her four groupmates and was able to make friends pretty quickly. 

Additionally, during the leaders’ training, Link leaders participated in activities they would later do with the freshmen, so the leaders got to bond quickly and learn about each other before they had to learn to work together, Jarrett said. 

“I think having more than one partner was nice because there were more people to contribute stories about their experiences so we could relate to a variety of different types of people to talk to the students,” Ha said. 

Along with the arrangement of groups, Jarrett and Barnes incorporated several content adjustments. 

“The biggest changes came because Ms. Barnes and I went on the training of the company that actually started it, called the Boomerang Project,” Jarrett said. “We realized that a couple of aspects were missing from what we did in previous years.” 

The Boomerang Project designed several games and activities to each teach their own lesson to the group. The major activity, 64 squares, challenged students to work together to cross a river by stepping on the correct squares. Through this process, the Boomerang Project intended for students to realize that setbacks and sidesteps are a part of every journey. 

According to Jarrett, another important aspect of their training was remembering how it felt to be a freshman. 

“We tried to walk the Link Crew leaders back and have them really remember what the most important things are to learn,” she said. 

Freshman Arnav Garg thought the event went smoothly and overall found it “pretty fun.” 

Garg felt that his leaders worked together well and enjoyed some of the activities. By the end, Garg said he got a nice introduction to the school and learned enough about the campus to get around. 

“Overall, I think it was a successful event,” Jarrett said. “I walk around throughout the day and you could see the freshmen relaxing and having fun. They looked really happy by the end of it.”

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Admin team sees changes, School adjusts to larger class sizes, Class of 2020 has record 51 National Merit semifinalists