Link Leaders welcome new Spartans

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker .Freshman lined up with their Link Leaders in one of the many ice breaker games played during freshman orientation on Aug. 22 at Boardman High School.

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker .Incoming freshman at Boardman High School are joined by Link Leader students, who are juniors and seniors, to learn a new song and dance for freshman orientation.

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker .Link Leaders tried to pop balloons between themselves and freshman faster than the other team to win a competition played at Boardman freshman orientation on Aug. 22.

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker .Incoming freshman at Boardman High School were joined by Link Leader students, who are juniors and seniors, for freshman orientation.

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Neighbors | Submitted.Link Crew member Isabella Nordquist cheered as new freshmen walk through a tunnel of high fives.

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker.Teacher Chad Deangelo ran the Link Leader orientation, giving commands to students lined up on the gym floor from the bleachers.

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Neighbors | Submitted.Hayley Ho, Ella Huston, Isabella Nordquist, Jwad Eleyan, Michael Flood and Aaron Hura all participate in a group activity for the Link Leader orientation at Boardman High School on Aug. 22.

By JESSICA HARKER

jharker@vindy.com

Boardman High School hosted its eighth annual Link Leader freshman orientation on Aug. 22.

The orientation aimed at making the transition for incoming freshman to Boardman High School as easy as possible.

“I think the most horrific part of transitioning into high school is not knowing,” said Principle Cynthia Fernback. “I think what they remember is developing a sense of belonging even before the first day of school.”

Link Leaders are juniors and seniors at Boardman who apply and are chosen to be part of the program.

According to Fernback the selection process for Link Leaders is rigorous.

“Its a very select group of kids and they are really looking for kids who have figured out how to be successful here,” Fernback said.

To become a Link Leader students must create a video application, as well as be involved in the school and have good academic standing.

According to Chloe Housteau, a senior at Boardman who has been a Link Leader for two years, the school tries to choose students involved in a range of activities to be part of the program.

“They try to pick a wide variety so every freshman has someone to relate to,” Housteau said.

The job of a Link Leader is not just to help organize orientation either, but to be a mentor for freshman students throughout the year.

“These kids visit homerooms all year,” Fernback said. “So it is really an ongoing relationship and they are always there to help.”

Science teacher and Link Leader coordinator Chad DeAngelo ran the event, organizing a number of ice breaker activities for students.

Link Leaders worked with DeAngelo to organize both large and small group activities aimed at making freshman more comfortable at the school and with other students.

“We aren’t that much older than the freshman so it is a lot easier for us to interact with them.” Housteau said.

The beginning of the event was a pep rally style meeting with Link Leaders and freshman mixed together on the bleachers in Boardman’s gymnasium.

DeAngelo organized a song and dance for students to learn, a balloon popping competition and many more activities.

After the ice breakers, students broke into smaller groups, with two or three Link Leaders coupled with 10-12 incoming freshman.

Here, the Link Leaders organized their individual group activities, trying to get to know the incoming students and answer any questions they may have.

Housteau said the upper-classmen that are involved in the program decide on a theme for their group, and use the Link Leader packet provided to them to organize the days activities.

“Its really just about these kids feelings like this school is their home. And also getting to know some of our best upper classman,” Fernback said.

Housteau remembers when she was a freshman and attended the Link Leader orientation.

“I was very, very nervous, it was a very different atmosphere from a private school,” Housteau said. “It was just really awesome and it really helped me my first year.”

She said that attending the orientation assuaged her fears and made her more confident on her first day of school.

“Mr. DeAngelo, right from the start he just made it so much fun, and I was laughing, and I am still laughing at him,” Housteau said.

After orientation Housteau said she was more comfortable in the school, and was able to reach out to the Link Leaders for help.

“I had trouble with my locker combination, that’s what really what got me.” Housteau said. “She [her Link Leader] didn’t think I was going to call her over to help me but I definitely took her up on her offer.”

Fernback said that the program has been successful in the past eight years, and has served as an example for other schools to shape their Link Leader programs.

“These are people who really care about kids. All of our teachers really care about kids but we have a group of teachers who is willing to spend a lot of time. It’s not just the talk its the walk,” she said.

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