Link Crew and Mentoring contribute to academics and community
Students helping students. This has been a theme for the past four years in both the Link Crew program for freshmen and the mentor program for each grade.
Every student in the school has been a part of the Link Crew program, which consists of carefully selected junior and senior volunteers, who are then paired up and set to a class of freshmen. Every Monday, Thursday, and Friday during Study Session, the groups meet for either study time or an activity day. Halfway through the fourth year of the support program, this is the first year in which the oldest Link Crew Leaders have also experienced the program as freshmen.
Freshman Kevin Naritomi’s favorite part of the Link Crew program is the Friday activity day, where the freshman classes participate in bonding exercises, that also provide lessons on how to navigate through high school. “The activities we do in Link Crew are really fun. They’ve really helped me make new friends, learn the ropes of high school, and have a good time in Link Crew,” Naritomi said.
The Boomerang Project, which runs Link Crew across the nation, has impacted more that 1.8 million freshmen from the program, including about 1,600 Northgate students. It has trained 3,540 schools in America and Canada in its 25 years. The goal of the program is to foster connections, support, and a school-within-a-school feel for students in the youngest grade level on campus.
This year, the leaders have thought of new ways to inspire their freshmen. One way is through Link Applause, where teachers have the opportunity to send a freshman a sweet letter of recognition for a good deed or doing well on a test. Leaders also have brainstormed fun ways to keep freshmen involved, such as winning a pizza party for dressing up for Halloween and taking a selfie with their Link Crew leaders.
Miles Simitz, a junior and first time Link leader, can see what an impact he makes on his freshmen. “The freshmen definitely will benefit from the relationships we create and the opportunities to communicate with their peers, and I’m glad I get to be a part of it,” he said.
Eugene Cho, a junior, recalls her experience in Link Crew as a freshman. “As the year went on, I became really close to my Link Crew leaders. We had a strong bond and they helped me choose my class schedule for the next year. I had a great experience, “ Cho said.
While freshmen are in their Link Crew classes three days a week, students in the three other grade levels are in mixed-grade Study Session classes, with some classes designated as a tutorial for academic support where another group of student volunteers, Mentors, offer assistance.
The 85 Link Crew leaders and 125 Mentors underwent extensive training over the summer and occasionally during school hours about how to best connect with freshmen and the other students. For the mentoring training, students went over the different strategies of how to best help students. They were shown skits, videos, and tutoring methods, with time to practice before joining their classes.
Staff members head both programs, with sciences teachers Melanie Scott and Todd Bauleke managing the Link Crew program, and science teacher Cori Starr and math teacher Pete Ceresa overseeing the Tutorial program and mentors.
At four years and going strong, both programs offer peer-to-peer support that many seem to appreciate.
“Overall, it’s a really good program,” Anna Meehan, a senior and mentor said. “Not many places can offer a free tutoring program. It’s good that students can be placed in the Study Session class that they are struggling with. I’m glad I can be a part of it.”