‘Link Crew’ mentoring program helps high school freshmen adapt

Education 21st Century

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The transition from middle school to high school can be a challenge for some teens.

“As a freshman, you don’t know what you’re coming into. Everything’s confusing,” said Virginia Delarosa, a senior and Link Crew leader at Highland Park High School.

“You went from being the top dog in middle school to being in a whole new building, with all these additional people,” said Elena Buckner, a French teacher and Link Crew head.

Throw in a global pandemic and what’s already a challenge, gets even trickier.

“It’s been a bit hectic because it hasn’t really gone how it normally has been through previous years, so it’s been kind of stressful ’cause especially with the uncertainty of how this year’s going to go,” freshman and Link Crew mentee Jaydah Watson said.

The Link Crew program at Highland Park High aims to help ease some of that uncertainty just a bit.

It’s a program where juniors and seniors mentor freshmen. They help support them in their academic, social, and emotional success.

“Try to contact them to see what they’re doing, how their class are going, if they have new friends,” Delarosa said. “Just little things like that that make them more comfortable.”

Delarosa is a senior and has been a Link Crew leader for two years now.

This year, she’s helping her Link Crew freshman Jaydah Watson make her first year of high school, full of social distancing, masks, and semi-virtual learning, a little less overwhelming.

Watson said Delarosa’s support, along with the other Link Crew leaders, has been a big help.

“Do you know where this class is, or do you know who this teacher is? And they make sure we know what hour that is and what building we need to go into,” Watson said.

“This year especially, I think we’ve had so much change and flexibility and adaptation and such a strange end to their eighth-grade career that it’s really important that we’re just looking out for our freshman and making sure that they get what they need,” Buckner said.

Each freshman at Highland Park High is paired up with at least one mentor for the school year.

This year, they’re meeting once a month virtually, because of the pandemic.

Buckner said they’re hoping to start having social activities during the once a month meetings so that freshmen can get to know more students.

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