How would you feel if you had to start high school during a pandemic? What programs would you wish were in place to help you better understand this situation?
Freshmen around the country in 2020 are beginning their first year in high school without any preparation as to what to expect. They will not have the full experience of walking down school hallways, schedules in hand, searching each room number for the correct classroom.
They will not have the enjoyment of being around their friends and classmates, ready to start a new chapter in their academic careers together. Instead, they are stuck at home, without any idea of when they will walk into high school for the first time. They will be exposed to a completely different environment in dire need of assistance.
Hoover High School has created a new program this year in an attempt to remedy this: Link Crew. Link Crew is a program that helps incoming freshmen at Hoover adjust to their new environment by giving them an upperclassman mentor. Lara Suri, teacher specialist and advisor of the Link Crew program at Hoover, said that the goal of the program is to create “a sense of community and belonging right from the start of school.”
Juniors and seniors collectively volunteered to the program to mentor the Class of 2024 and give them advice from their own experiences. For Eliana Artenyan, a Hoover junior, the choice of becoming a Link Crew mentor was a no-brainer.
“I joined Link Crew because I wanted to make sure the incoming freshmen this year were welcomed into our Hoover family with open arms,” Artenyan said. “I wanted the new freshmen to know that there is someone supporting them throughout their first year of high school.”
Each mentor is assigned 5-6 freshmen to which they will interact with for the entire year. Throughout the year, these mentors will check up on the lowerclassmen and make sure they are doing well mentally and academically. They will make sure that their students are adjusting to the struggles of freshmen life. They will push the freshmen into joining clubs and school activities and encourage them to be as active in the Hoover community as they would be on campus.
However, the program is not only benefitting freshmen. Suri added that Link Crew is also helping the upperclassmen mentors.
“This program benefits our Juniors and Seniors by developing leadership and communication skills and the Freshmen benefit by having a ‘friend’ to show them the ropes and what it means to be a Tornado!” Suri said.
An important value Hoover holds is to treat each other like family because Hoover is our second home. The new Link Crew program captures this essence of Hoover. Upperclassmen and lowerclassmen will no longer be divided by experience, but unified by time spent together.
“We are very excited to have Link Crew at Hoover this year because our freshmen are our Ohana!” Suri said.