APS Column: Link Crew at Austin HS

Published 5:22 pm Friday, September 8, 2023

By Joee Winter

Link Crew Coordinator

For many students, the transition to high school is difficult. Students need to learn a new building and a new schedule and many times they can feel lost and alone.

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Link Crew is a program at Austin High School that pairs junior and senior mentors with AHS freshmen to help ease their transition. The program, which has been used at AHS for over 10 years, also provides an excellent opportunity for upperclassmen to develop their leadership skills.

Interested leaders fill out an application during the prior school year. Selected students must be on track to graduate and have no current behavior or attendance issues. We want to make sure our leaders are good role models for our incoming freshmen.  There is a short training in May with an additional 12 hours of training occurring in August. Leaders are trained in the team building activities they will lead during orientation in addition to how to anticipate what could happen during orientation and how to step in to keep freshmen positively engaged.

For orientation, leaders are paired together, and they work to plan for their small group time and school tour. As part of the school tour leaders have a “theme” for their group which usually entails crazy costumes. The goal is to create a sense of belonging at this new, big school. A common phrase throughout training is to help “Freshman feel good, not bad.” Orientation lasts four hours and is a mixture of large group activities in the gym and small group activities led by the leaders, ending with a school tour.

The goal is for Link Crew leaders to continue meeting with our freshmen during the school day. We are hoping with the new supports at Austin High School, we can figure out what this looks like during the current school year and in the future.

We remind leaders they are a Link Crew leader for the rest of their lives. They have been trained to step in and step up to help peers in need.  We want our leaders to be a positive force in our school, leading by example to help everyone feel like they belong. In our recruitment process, we want to make sure our group of leaders looks like our student body. We want our freshmen to walk into orientation and see themselves in one of our leaders.

Link Crew is an amazing program at AHS that has helped numerous students make the transition to high school while also providing leadership for our upperclassmen.