At Seaside High School, the leadership’s goal for freshmen and incoming students is to get them linked in to the school’s student body as efficiently and seamlessly as possible. To that end, Jeff Corliss, the woodshop teacher, annually organizes the Link Day Program, a unique take on student orientation that utilizes the help of hand-picked student-leaders.
“Being student-led is really important,” said special education teacher Amy Rider, who oversaw the program this year alongside Corliss and English teacher Victoria Keller. Teenagers respond to their peers “much more readily” than adults, she said, adding, “It promotes a feeling of goodwill among all the students.”
Link Day was held Tuesday, Sept. 3, before classes resumed for the 2019-20 school year. To help execute the program, Corliss puts together a Link Crew of about 30 students who are at least incoming sophomores but primarily upperclassmen. They are nominated the spring of the previous school year by their teachers.
According to Rider, they look for students who are enthusiastic, engaged in school, and in possession of noticeable leadership traits. They were required to attend two three-hour training sessions the week before.
She recalled when she started high school and how “intimidating it was.” Linking the incoming students with upperclassmen who can take them under their wing and show them the ropes helps to ease that intimidation.
The Link Crew members were each assigned a “team” of incoming students and freshmen and assumed the responsibility of helping them get oriented to the facility, their class schedules, and other school logistics. They are encouraged to take ownership of the program, be friendly and participate enthusiastically.
Making orientation engaging
Link Day began with an assembly in the gym, where Corliss and the Link Crew led a variety of ice-breakers and team-building exercises, accompanied by life lessons and motivation to make the most of their high school careers.
Corliss encouraged them to be present and involved, adding, “The more you’re involved in school, the more successful you’ll be.”
The student body was then broken into their individual teams, and the respective Link Crew leaders took over running small-group sessions, which included more activities and question-and-answer discussions.
The students also took a campus tour and attended a five-minute sample of each of their first trimester classes to meet their teachers and get a feel for their daily schedule.
To conclude the day, the teams were gathered together for another assembly, where they reviewed what they learned that day and met with the Associated Student Body leadership.
A long-term responsibility
Students selected as Link Crew members are expected to continue their leadership and be role models throughout the duration of the school year. They work with the younger students not only at orientation, but also three times during the year in workshop-type settings.
“Once you have been associated with the Link Crew Program, you will be in the freshmen’s eyes a successful and popular leader,” the Link Crew Handbook states. “You will be seen often by your team, as well as by others, and if you are acting responsibly, you will influence others as well.”
Rider echoed that sentiment, adding it is advantageous for incoming students to see a familiar face on campus now and then.
“Now they have someone to go to beyond just the teachers,” she said.