Link Crew welcomes new students to MHS

Incoming Merrill High School freshmen and new students receive a warm welcome each school year from the Link Crew, a group of upperclassmen who help ease their transition to high school.
The MHS Link Crew was expanded this year from 60 to 80 students. Link Crew leaders met with eighth grade students in the spring to get them thinking about high school. They also met with them during the August summer orientation. On the day before regular classes started at the high school, the new students spent the day with the Link Crew doing team building exercises and learning the ropes of high school.
This was the first year that MHS offered a 3-day summer orientation session for freshmen, transfer students and foreign exchange students. During the summer orientation, Link Crew leaders assisted teachers, ran question and answer sessions and designed a scavenger hunt.
On the first day of school, freshmen and new students get to know both the Link Crew leaders and each other. The day consists of gaining a lot of knowledge about the school and also interacting with each other in fun ways.
The nearly 300 new students are broken into about 30 groups of between 8-10 students. Each group is assigned to two or three Link leaders.
“The purpose is to acclimate the freshmen to the high school,” said Link Crew coordinator Amy Heimerl. “It gives the freshmen a bigger support system. Teachers can’t do it alone.”
They will continue to meet periodically throughout the first semester to provide support to the new students and freshmen.
“They meet once every few weeks and by the end of the first semester they’re mostly ready to go,” Heimerl said.
The Link Crew program helps keep a positive atmosphere in the school, Heimerl added. MHS has been involved in the Link Crew program for more than 10 years.
Heimerl is one of about 30 national trainers. She has traveled all over the United States and Canada, helping to train other teachers to head Link Crew programs in their schools. Any money Heimerl earns as a trainer goes back to MHS’s Link Crew account.
The program has generated a lot of interest from juniors and seniors who want to be Link Crew Leaders. Coordinators sometimes get twice as many applications as they have positions to fill. Link Crew leaders are chosen partly on their attendance and records and grades. But coordinators are also looking for leaders with varied backgrounds and interests so they can relate to different groups of incoming students.
“We try to get a wide range of students,” Heimerl said. “I believe kids want to be part of something good and Link Crew is a good reason.”
Link Crew leaders painted the rock by the football field with a welcome to the incoming Class of 2014.

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