Even before the school year starts, a group of Meadowdale High School student leaders is working to help make the transition to high school easier for incoming freshmen.
The Meadowdale High School Link Crew last Thursday morning held a special welcome orientation for the freshman. Link Crew is a high school transition program that welcomes ninth graders so they feel comfortable throughout the first year of their high school experience.
The first day of classes for Edmonds School District students is Wednesday, Sept. 4.
Though other district high schools have similar programs, Assistant Principal Kimberly Drier said Meadowdale’s program strives to ensure the freshmen receive support throughout their entire first year.
“The strength for Meadowdale is they have activities all year,” she said.
Thursday morning’s freshman orientation was held in the gym, where music played as Link Crew members formed a gauntlet near the back entrance to welcome the incoming freshmen with cheers and high fives. After the entrance ceremony, Meadowdale Principal David Shockley introduced the students to Megan Rainey — a history teacher and Link Crew advisor — who led them through some participation games.
Following the orientation, the Link Crew organized and hosted a dance for the freshman Thursday night. Link Crew senior Jamie Christiansen said the dance is a good way to get the incoming ninth graders out of their comfort zone.
“Everyone gets into a big group and we pull the freshmen into the middle,” she said. “Then they pull their friends in and it becomes a ripple effect.”
This year, Meadowdale’s Link Crew program has 86 student leaders. On the first day of school, each of them are assigned a group of freshmen who will look to them for guidance or advice. Then, program leaders spend time getting to know their assigned students and building personal connections.
“Throughout the year they have us to lean on for any questions they have or struggles they’re having and we’re there to help them,” Christiansen said.
Link Crew senior Paulette Bussard has been with the program for three years and said the strong bonds are what kept her coming back. She also said she likes to help the younger students succeed.
“It’s so rewarding seeing your freshmen do so well during their first year here,” Bussard said.
For those interested in applying for Link Crew, the program welcomes sophomores, juniors and seniors. Prospective members are required to fill out an application, write a personal essay and get a teacher referral. Link Crew advisor Andrew Matty, a freshman history teacher, said the program looks for students who display qualities of a good role model throughout the school year. Accepted applicants are required to undergo training for their position in the program.
“You have to show not why you deserve to be one but why you’re deserving to be a Link leader,” he said.
–Story and photos by Cody Sexton