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Link Crew offers freshmen a helping hand

Common worries of kids starting at a new school include whether they will make new friends, find and open their lockers and get to class on time.

Members of the Park High School Link Crew, who are juniors and seniors this year, remember that they had the same concerns as freshmen.

"We want to make them comfortable so that later on in the year they can come to us if they have problems," said Kendra Jones, one of the Link Crew leaders.

Students who apply to be Link Crew members received orientation themselves before they met approximately 400 ninth-graders at the Sept. 1 Park orientation a week before school started.

New students gathered in the school gym and were greeted by Link Crew members and Link Crew teachers who wore T-shirts with "making a difference one freshman at a time" on them.

Phil Kuemmel, athletics and activities director, addressed the group. "Your new best friend could be standing next to you," he said.

Students participated in get acquainted games such as linking arms back-to-back with a partner and negotiating to get to a sitting position on the gym floor.

After the introduction, ninth-graders met up with Link Crew student leaders, with two leaders for every 10 new students. Until March, leaders will check up on their charges to see how they are doing. There are also several Link Crew activities during the year including a pizza party.

Each Link Crew group was assigned to a classroom where they got to know each other. Without teacher supervision, leaders listened to freshman concerns and questions.

After the question-and-answer sessions, freshmen toured the school with their leaders.

Jones, and her Link Crew partner Logan Green, gave their charges light sabers to carry on the tour, just for fun.

Mike Lehmann and Laura Abruss gave their freshmen green glasses without lenses and beaded necklaces to wear.

It's easier to hear about school rules from other students than from a student handbook, most freshmen students agreed.

Cell phones and iPods must be off during school, freshmen were told. Chewing gum, snacks and drinks are at teacher discretion, they added.

"Teachers have their own rules," Jones said.

In general, freshman students said Link Crew orientation eased their concerns about coming to a new school.

"We got to know each other," said Morgann McCarthy, ninth-grader. "They told us not everything is going to be positive."

Madeline Reding said she felt better after the orientation, but she's still sure she's going to get lost on the first day of school.

Adam Monjeau is not only new to Park, but is new to the area, having moved from Stillwater.

He's gotten to know students because he joined the football team, he said.

The new students were also clued in by Abruss and Lehmann that they have to hustle to the cafeteria when turkey ranch wraps are on the menu because they are very popular sandwiches.

"You can have pizza every day," Abruss said.

Allyssa Colley said she's probably not going to eat pizza every day. "It would get old after awhile," she said.

However, Colley and McCarthy will be at the school's coffee bar before school. "Some days, there are croissants," Abruss said.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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