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USD 431 adds freshman mentoring
hoi kl link group
Meeting with their Link Crew, incoming freshman at Hoisington High school sit in a circle in school library getting acquainted. Juniors and seniors will meet with the freshman to encourage them to participate in activities and be involved in the school. - photo by KAREN LA PIERRE

HOISINGTON — Hoisington High School had a successful first day of school for incoming freshman with a 100 percent participation in a new mentoring program called Link Crew on Tuesday. Entering high school as a freshman is definitely transition period for students, but this year the students will have some help from upperclassmen.
Link Crew is a mentoring program that links upperclassmen to the incoming freshmen each year.  Each upperclassmen leader is assigned a group of freshmen whom they stay connected with throughout the year.  The goals of the organization are to make the school a more welcoming place for freshmen, create a feeling of community, and set the new students up for success in not only their first year but all their years.
“This trains the upperclass to be leaders in school,” said Meg Wilson, principal. “It involves every freshman. There will be a whole year of activities for the school.”
The juniors and seniors at HHS had to apply to be Link Crew leaders and be recommended by two teachers. The freshmen were then assigned groups. After their freshman year, the students will then become Link leaders.
After some team building exercises first thing on Tuesday, the students broke into smaller groups of eight freshmen and two student leaders who highlighted what to expect in high school.
The Link Crew leaders chose a theme for their group such as cowboys and Olympics. They wore such things as cowboy hats or gold medals to designate which crew they belonged to.
“High school is a time try new things,” said Link Crew Leader Austin Cody. “I want to help you guys to get through it.”
Following meeting with their Link Crew groups, the students then toured the building, found lockers, and met with teachers for a few minutes. They then had pizza for lunch.
The school began working on implementing the program last school since April.
School counselor Amanda Brack and teachers London Reif and Tim Woodcock received national certification in the Link  Crew program earlier this summer.  Link Crew students leaders also made a commitment of time earlier this month, and spent a day at the school being trained.
Brack was pleased with the way Tuesday was going. “You can tell every one is engaged.”
The Link Crew will be the umbrella organization for all of the other school organizations and is designed to increase freshman success as measured by school attendance, academic success and discipline. Friday evening, the school will hold a welcome back celebration including sports scrimmages and a dance.
The program fulfills the districts goal of developing character education. Link Crew meets several criterion for effective character education as defined by the Character Education Partnership based in Washington D.C.