By Emma Canillo, Managing Editor
As the class of 2026 begins their journey into high school at El Camino, the Link Crew Leaders are tasked with immersing the freshmen into their first year of high school after two years of online learning and social distancing.
EC’s incoming freshmen may be starting their high school journey free from COVID-19 obstacles, but similar to the upperclassmen and former EC students, they also dealt with the virus which caused their middle school years to be online and distant from classmates.
High school is commonly known to be a student’s turning point in education. Classes become more rigid, more important and more time consuming as students prepare to graduate. The social aspect, however, starts much earlier than freshman year for students.
Learning how to navigate a new school, create friendships and build respect from teachers are just a few of the experiences that middle school students face, which helps them build independence and individuality away from their parents and elementary school teachers. Since EC’s freshmen missed most of their middle school years, the aid from Link Crew was crucial.
The Link Crew program pairs ninth grade students with upperclassmen to help mentor, guide and assist the incoming freshmen as they transition into high school. This year, the Link Crew Leaders worked hard on supporting the new students after the two years of COVID-19 quarantine they faced.
Link Crew Coordinator Brandy Martin expresses the feedback given by students after their first freshman orientation.
“We had a really good show-up for orientation—I think [the students] are more engaged and ready to get back into routine,” Martin explained.
Being quarantined for two years of middle school may have caused many incoming freshmen to have feelings of anxiety or nervousness. Entering high school is a big change in itself, but after years of being at home, ninth graders have a heavy weight on their shoulders.
With this in mind, EC’s Link Crew Leaders made sure to connect their own experiences with the ninth graders.
“One of the pieces in the training is to talk about the Link Leaders’ challenges,” Martin expressed.
By finding new ways to interact with the freshmen and engage them into EC’s culture, the leaders were able to gain great feedback from the students.
“Just being in an environment with all people who are new to EC helped the process,” Martin explained.
As the school year progresses, the Link Leaders will continue to offer help to their group of underclassmen by keeping in contact with them, checking grades and holding events to continue to engage them with EC’s activities.
No matter the path the ninth graders choose to take during their high school years, the Link Leaders will continuously support them and show them the freedom they have to express themselves at school.
“My Link Leaders are really diverse—they can show different paths for the freshmen,” Martin expressed.