The Link Crew has been an integral part of acquainting the incoming freshman class with the rest of the San Marcos community. Active for seven to eight years at our school, the program was originally fostered by The Boomerang Project. Its primary goal is to facilitate freshman assimilation into diverse, at times hectic, high school environment. Thus, the process connects all the grade levels and increases the overall school spirit and morale of its students.
“We have always tried to do our little frosh orientation, but I never liked it at all, because it was like ‘Oh, hey! Here we are, let’s go on campus tours and make hotdogs!’ We needed to do something more,” said Mr. Solis, the activities director, who is one of the original founders of the Link Crew at San Marcos.
At the time Link Crew started, the greatest problem was the apparent division among students by their junior high school. The integration of freshmen from different junior highs, notably La Colina and La Cumbre, was limited.
“We had La Colina and La Cumbre cliques. They did not know each other and it would not be until their junior year that they finally started to merge. I wanted to figure out a way to start the process sooner,” said Mr. Solis, commenting on the situation before the addition of Link Crew. “There are two things we have in common. Number one, we are all Royals; number two, that is the only thing we have in common. There is something different about each and every one of us. I wanted to start that meshing sooner.”
This year, San Marcos has experienced many changes in its schedule, Royal Time being the most significant addition. The 25-minute period before lunch allows the continuation of Link Crew throughout the first term. It aims to establish stronger relationships between the Link Leaders and their group of freshmen as well as provide academic mentoring help to those in need.
“Royal Time being a big change, the school thought it was very important to also help freshmen out right at the beginning of school by giving them an intentional time every day to be with their Link Leaders. Freshmen are connected with upperclassmen who are role models and leaders for them, another face to interact with, another teacher to know,” said Mr. Oftedal, the history teacher on campus, who, along with Ms. Tilton, have developed many community-building games and activities for Link Crew’s Royal Time.
“We have never been able to do the second half which is to continue it through, because it is supposed to be like mentoring,” said Mr. Solis. “With Royal Time, we can finally get it going.”
Following the end of first term, the school strives to sustain the contact of freshmen with their Link Leaders.
“We are hoping to have community building events for freshmen to go to with their Link Leaders. We are also hoping to see some increase in school spirit and attendance at theatre productions, athletic and choral events. We want to see our school become a unified campus where everybody enjoys everything and gets the most out of their experience,” said Mr. Oftedal.
Among many of the important components, students from junior and senior classes have greatly contributed to the success of Link Crew. About 200 Link Leaders stand as role models and mentors to the incoming generation. Their efforts are equally significant to the program, especially this year. Nominated by their teachers, students were chosen last spring and trained over the summer to become Link Leaders.
“Somebody who is enthusiastic. Somebody who is happy to be a San Marcos Royal and wants to make a difference in their high school. Someone who knows the in’s and out’s of San Marcos. Finally, anybody who is interested in helping the younger generation develop and wants to look ahead in shaping the future of the school – that is a Link Crew Leader,” said Mr. Oftedal.
Although, the program has thrived for many years, improvements can always be made.
“It is still a work in progress and it will continue getting better as we learn how to utilize the time more efficiently, but we are off to a great start,” said Mr. Solis.