This story was updated Aug. 31 with additional information from other freshmen.
In its third year at Sunny Hills, Link Crew organized a freshman orientation Aug. 6 at the gym to help incoming students adjust to Lancer life and the campus.
“We want to connect freshmen with upperclassmen to make them feel comfortable and give a sense of inclusivity,” Link Crew co-adviser Lindsay Safe said of the noon to 4 p.m. event. “Hopefully that will translate into school participation.”
After entering the gym, ninth-graders checked into their respective small groups and participated in team exercises like rearranging themselves from tallest to shortest without talking.
“The [interactive] activities were fine,” said one of the attendees, freshman Kamden Wright. “I knew we did these group activities to help the [students] interact with one another, so it helped with that.”
Following that, the students were divided into small groups with their designated Link Crew leaders, who escorted them to 46 separate classrooms around campus.
Each group ranged from nine to 16 people led by two to three junior or senior Link Crew leader, who connected with them by sharing life stories, touring the school campus and working together through team challenges such as juggling paper balls. Link Crew members also created themes for each of their ninth-graders and provided candy treats like Jolly Ranchers, Dum Dums and Ferrero Rochers.
Leaders were responsible for providing their freshmen with themed costumes or accessories to wear while touring the campus. In freshman Kelly Crisanto’s case, her group had a theme of “hipster mummies.”
“I honestly loved dressing up and putting on toilet paper and glasses,” Crisanto said. “It was funny, simple and pretty interesting.”
Although Monique Alvarado appreciated Link Crew’s dedication in supplying costumes and candy for ninth-graders, the freshman said she wished that lunch or snacks could have been provided as well.
“I did eat before I went, but I would have preferred them feeding us [beyond just candy],” Alvarado said. “We were there for a while, so we did get hungry.”
First-year Link Crew leader Senior Jimin Jung said he enjoyed working with his group of students because of their willingness to participate in activities despite the challenges he faced when first meeting his crew.
“It was very awkward at first to introduce myself to my Link Crew group, but playing games together solved this problem,” Jung said. “I think freshmen should realize that the orientation was not simply a meeting where leaders tell their experience in high school in a didactic manner.”
In addition, an increase in the number of upperclassmen joining Link Crew allowed multiple leaders to supervise a single group, which was different from last year’s freshman orientation, Safe said.
“Having two people [in charge of one group] give freshmen a chance to connect with someone else because maybe they relate more to one leader than the other,” she said. “It just gives them more support, and anytime we can give more support, I’m happy.”
While reflecting on the event, Safe said she appreciated the positive impact the orientation had on preparing first-year Lancers for their first day of high school.
“People question me on the bright color of our shirts, but it’s on purpose because you can’t tell me that when you walked around campus on the first day of school, you didn’t see leaders who weren’t willing to help,” she said. “I want freshmen to know that they belong here and that they have someone who has their back.”