Link Leaders smooth transition to high school during pandemic

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Photo by Michelle Cruz

Link Leader Sadyia Farah showing freshman Safiyo Farah where to go for her class. They are keeping their distances apart from each other and wearing masks.

Transitioning from middle to high school is a challenge, but this school year has started while still facing the pandemic: wearing masks, social distancing and one way hallways. Link Leaders and staff this year are looking forward to helping freshmen having a great first year of high school.

Link leaders help incoming freshmen by giving them advice and support. Leaders have to be ready because these students are making a transition to high school and have to get used to a big school. Link leaders do their best for freshmen to feel comfortable and ready. 

Link leaders help freshmen transition from the middle school to the high school. Let’s be honest, high school is a scary place at first and link leaders are put in place to make the first year less daunting! They can come to us for anything, even something as simple as help finding a class,” junior Sadyia Farah replied.  

Of course students struggle as they begin high school by balancing school, homework, jobs and clubs. It leads to a point where students are overwhelmed or do not know what to do. With the pandemic going on freshman need support from teachers, staff and students. They want to be able to find their ways in a big school with safety guidelines

“Continuing to have a good means of support (teachers, councilors, staff, other students, etc) that students can go to with problems they may be facing in classes or home will make freshman year successful,” freshman Cayman Pagel expressed. “For me personally, support from my teachers at home and at school (time to ask questions) will make my year successful.”

Also teachers are part of the Link Leader crew as advisors. The advisors help the leaders to prepare for orientation and guide them to help the freshmen. This year they had new adjustments by working with students in person or through distance learning. 

“I am a Link Advisor (one of the five).  My job is to get the Link Leaders ready for Orientation and to guide them throughout the year to help guide the Freshman.  My specific job this year was to work with the Distance Learning Link Leaders who provided Distance Learning Freshman Orientation.  We used Zoom for Freshman Orientation.  Typically in a “normal” year, the advisors would work together to provide Freshman Orientation,” math teacher Nicholas Springer said.

Link Leaders take their experiences from their freshman year and try to make it a better outcome. Leaders do not want freshmen to experience the same challenges. They want the new freshman to have better experiences than their own and feel comfortable. 

Farah decided to be a link leader because she does not want new freshmen to experience what she did in her first year of high school. 

Link leaders help freshmen transition from the middle school to the high school. Let’s be honest high school is a scary place at first and link leaders are put in place to make the first year less daunting! They can come to us for anything, even something as simple as help finding a class.”

— Junior Sadiya Farah

Although some freshmen experiences did not go well at Freshman Orientation. Some thought if they had more time it would have been a wonderful experience.  They would have talked and known other students in their classes.  Not all of them have the same classes and would like it if they went to all the classrooms.

Pagel would have liked if there was more time to “connect with the students in class or were able to make it to all the classrooms” ,would have been a special experience. 

Teachers who teach mostly all grades have their opinions on how Freshmen handle the pandemic better than any other grade. Freshmen are new and do not seem to struggle, while other grades struggle more because they already know how high school is with the pandemic. 

“I’ve noticed freshman handling the pandemic better than 10-12th graders.  For freshman, they don’t know what non-pandemic high school is like, so they have been able to do it easier.  For 10-12th graders, the students had to relearn how to do high school because it is very different. Once again I am generalizing and not all freshmen are handling it perfectly well, but for the Freshman I teach, they are doing really well,” Springer said.

Everything is crazy right now. But you can do it! Use your resources. Communicate with teachers.  We are here for you. We can show you the door, but in the end it’s up to the student to walk through it.” Springer added, “I guess just that the focus of Link Crew is really for the Social-Emotional Health of the students.  It is also an amazon program to watch students as leaders in the school. A cool story I should have included.  A couple years ago, one of the Freshman posted a self harm status on social media. Their Link Leader was connected with them and saw the post. The Link Leader was then able to inform the Pony Centers and we were able to intervene and help the Freshman before any harm did happen.”