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Link Crew helps freshmen transition into high school

By Kristyn ConleyHurricane High SchoolCHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For the past 19 years, students all over the nation have experienced a program designed for the difficult transition between middle and high school. At Hurricane High School, the program, called Link Crew, has been in place for five years. This year's seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshman have all experienced it. But does it really help?Senior Shannon Westfall doesn't think so."I think it is a waste of time because the freshmen are already scared, and they don't need to be bombarded by hundreds of people on the first day," Westfall said. "I learned the hard way; I didn't want anyone holding my hand."Some students feel the program was developed for the right reason but don't think it's particularly helpful."I think it has good intentions, but it doesn't work for everyone," said sophomore Katie Sublett. "It should be optional."Junior Grace Pritt agreed. "I think the program is meant to help, but I don't think it's effective. It just takes up their time and makes them more dependent on others."
Though students question its effectiveness, positive results have been reported.Studies show the transition into freshman year of high school can be the most stressful but also the most important. Link Crew provides comfort to those students who may not get it otherwise, at home or at school. It has helped lower the freshman truancy rate, and fewer freshman students are failing their classes.Teachers are also seeing improvement in the overall student body. Not only does it build freshmen's self-confidence and school pride, but it also builds leadership skills in the upperclassmen who take the responsibility to interact with the freshmen.Nichole Mowery, the Link Crew coordinator at Hurricane High School, has overseen the program for four of the five years the school has sponsored it. She finds it to be a key element to any freshman success story."The wrong influence can cause those at risk to fall through the cracks," she said. "Link Leaders who are good role models can help influence those at-risk kids not to fail but to be successful."At the end of each school year, Mowery holds a meeting for upcoming upperclassmen who are interested in becoming Link Leaders. "There are several upperclassmen who apply. However, the amount of time during the summer and school year often limits the number of volunteers," she said.On the first half of the first day of school, Link Crew participates in plenty of entertaining and interactive activities with the new freshmen, trying their best to make them feel welcome and accepted and helping them get to know one another. All Link Leaders participate in the activities with their freshmen, so they don't appear superior.
After that, Link Crew has meetings during lunch, which some freshmen don't like because it takes away half of their lunchtime. Aside from the school meetings, Link Crew also hosts social events such as tailgates and pool parties, where all the freshmen are invited to mingle with their classmates and leaders. At Hurricane, Link Crew meets for the first half of lunch on most Fridays during the school year.
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