Link crew to welcome high-schoolers

Fort Dodge Senior High is enhancing its yearly freshman orientation day with the creation of the Link Crew.

The group of 50 juniors and seniors will not only give incoming freshman a tour of the school, but also work with staff to plan activities.

The idea came from a student, Allison Emery, FDSH assistant principal, said.

“He had come here from another district and was sharing with me a program that had been used in his previous school,” Emery said. “It was a formal program where upperclassmen at the high school were involved in freshman orientation activities, as well as activities throughout the year, to help the incoming freshmen transition into a new building, and make connections to other students, to clubs, activities, things in the school that would improve their experiences and maybe set them up for success in a school year.”

The Freshman Academy staff, the group of teachers who primarily teach the freshman core courses, approved starting a Link Crew at senior high.

“It was unanimously agreed that this sounded like a great way to help our students connect at school and get an insider track on the school as seen through the eyes of students who have been successful here, what helped them get on the right track, and share that wisdom with their peers as they come into the building,” Emery said.

While students have been involved with the orientation day in previous years, their role is now expanded.

“In the past we had our student senate come in and they did help give the building tour when the students would go through their schedule, but there was no formal follow up with that. This will be the students actually helping us plan what needs to be a part of freshman orientation,” Emery said. “What did they see? What were their fears when they came in? What can we do to help alleviate some of those things? They’re going to be very involved, not only helping, but planning content and helping us as teachers.”

The call for volunteers was met with overwhelming response, Emery said.

“We were hoping we’d get people to apply to be our Link Crew members, to be those students that would help us with this,” she said. “Hundreds of students indicated interest and wanted to be a part of it. It was a great problem to have, that we had way more students that were interested who wanted to be a part of this than what we had planned for.”

Freshman orientation is important, Emery said.

“For a lot of our students, they’re excited to start their high school career, to come here, but I think there’s also some uncertainty or even fear that comes along with that,” she said. “It’s a new building, all new teachers. It gives them a chance to come here and make some of those personal connections with people prior to walking in the first day, gives them some support people they can lean on, as well as giving them an opportunity to come in the building, find their classrooms, kind of get a feel for the procedures and routines we have here.”

The Link Crew members will participate at freshman orientation on Aug. 19. They begin their training Tuesday.