With over 1,000 students, it can be difficult to find your way in a large school. At Seagoville High School, the Link Crew program is shaping the high school experience for freshmen. To ensure their initial steps are met with confidence and success, dedicated junior and senior “Link Crew Leaders” welcome new “Dragons” every year while embodying the spirit of mentorship.
While adults serve a vital role in creating relationships with students and a sense of belonging, Marissa Romer, Theater Arts director, believes it is powerful for students to have peers as mentors. “Starting high school is terrifying, but freshmen would never admit that. Instead, they act out and try to play it ‘cool,’” she said. “Through teaching and working with others, students learn how to be the best version of themselves.”
The yearlong initiative centers around the belief that students can empower one another. Freshmen are introduced to Link Crew at orientation, so by the time they begin school they have a friendly face to guide them. Once a month, student leaders teach a short lesson incorporating Social Emotional Learning (SEL) as well as team building activities. They also try to match students’ interests with other clubs to help them get involved.
Link Crew’s president, Abigail Z., and vice president, George M., were recommended by teachers during their sophomore year and have been in the program ever since. Witnessing a student’s overall growth is what fuels their commitment to Link Crew.
“Being nominated my first year showed me they [teachers]really saw something in me. I feel like our leadership qualities and how we’re able to help others is why we were nominated. We tell freshmen all the teachers saw something good in each and every one of us,” George said.
Abigail was a Link Crew mentee at her elementary school and she’s been focusing on keeping other students accountable. “We’re an example to the members. We’re here to show leadership and what we want students to be, which is good in class and getting to class on time. We also teach them small lessons like patience,” she said.
In one activity, officers made paper airplanes with students and told them to aim them at the trash can. Abigail says a lot of them didn’t make it in. “We told them that’s kind of like life. You’re planning something and you aim, but you don’t always reach it. What matters is that you enjoyed making something even if it didn’t have the outcome you wanted.”
Romer says Link Crew nurtures leadership qualities, encourages participation, and fosters a sense of community. “I believe that involvement in clubs or extracurricular activities is key to a successful high school career, and a happy and healthy teenager,” she said. “These kids have instruction for 8 hours a day, with only a 30-minute break. They need a positive outlet to explore their own personal interests.”