Boardman's freshmen orientation a blast, thanks to Link Crew

By Jessica Hardin


Most recall the first few days of high school with a grimace, but thanks to Link Crew, the 369 freshmen at Boardman can bypass awkwardness and have fun.

In their first few moments of high school, Boardman’s class of 2022 bounded through a tunnel of their classmates, who sang, danced and cheered them on.

The nationally recognized program, which is in its eighth year at Boardman, matches incoming students with junior or senior mentors called “Link Leaders.”

Link Leaders, clad in sky blue T-shirts, are effusive and energetic, even at 7:45 a.m.

“They’re 80 of our best kids in the building for different reasons,” said Chad DeAngelo, one of the Link Crew coordinators and a science teacher at Boardman. “They represent the three A’s – academics, athletics and arts.”

Boardman’s Link Crew features students involved in all aspects of high-school life at Boardman.

“There’s the quiet ones, the loud ones, the sarcastic ones. They pick a wide variety so every freshman has someone to relate to,” said Chloe Housteau, a senior Link Leader.

But, it’s not easy to become a Link Leader at Boardman. Principal Cindy Fernback described the role as “a coveted position.”

Applicants must create a 30-second video, provide two teacher recommendations, and fill out an application. They also complete two days of training for freshmen orientation.

The day’s events include ice-breaker activities, mini lessons on high-school life, and a tour of the building.

Link Leaders not only guide freshmen through the four hours of orientation but also provide support as their mentees navigate the challenges of their first semester.

“They check in [on mentees] during homeroom. They do mini lessons,” said Bill Orr, a high-school counselor.

Housteau still remembers the assistance her Link Leader offered. “My locker combination was what got me. I took [my Link Leader] up on her offer to help me out,” she said.

Lynnae Rassega, the parent of a Link Leader, has witnessed the program benefit both of her sons. “[Freshmen] have a go-to person that’s an older student. I think it makes them more comfortable. [The Link Crew makes] it fun,” she said.

And while Link Crew is shown to help freshmen transition to high school, administrators said it also benefits the Link Leaders.

“What I love is the confidence it gives the Link Leaders,” said Amy Radinovic, communications coordinator.

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