Students Build Strong Links of Friendship

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Entering its third year at San Marino High School, the Link Crew program is growing in popularity and membership.
In fact, about 100 of the high school’s returning students had their applications to join Link Crew turned away simply because the need was already met.
“We had so many applicants who wanted to do it,” said Laura Ives, a counselor at SMHS who helps coordinate Link Crew.
At the time, the 90 Link Crew students — ranging from incoming sophomores to incoming seniors — were hard at work completing their themed posters that will signify each group of the approximately 300 new SMHS students — mostly freshmen, but also including private school transfers and new residents. With this year’s theme being Disney, each group will be named for one of the company’s popular animated films.
And what will those 90 student leaders being doing in their groups?
“It’s easing them into high school,” explained senior Wania Ahmad, taking a quick break from working on her group’s poster.

Photo by Staci Moraza / OUTLOOK San Marino High School seniors Wania Ahmad (left) and Michael DuMont each draws from their unique experiences as once-new SMHS students to inspire them as Link Crew leaders for incoming students.
Photo by Staci Moraza / OUTLOOK
San Marino High School seniors Wania Ahmad (left) and Michael DuMont each draws from their unique experiences as once-new SMHS students to inspire them as Link Crew leaders for incoming students.

“We work with them so they feel welcome,” added Michael DuMont, a fellow senior. “We try to give them tips and break the ice for them.”
In short, the Link Crew leaders help to acclimate new SMHS students into everything that goes into the high school, whether it’s getting involved in school activities, figuring out how to balance schoolwork and personal time or simply making friends quickly at their new school.
Ahmad’s experience as a SMHS freshman helped to propel her to join Link Crew when it started her sophomore year. A San Marino resident who had spent her school years at New Horizon School in Pasadena, Ahmad began her freshman year at SMHS without knowing any of her peers or knowing where to go for registration on the first day.
“One of the big steps that day is registration,” she said. “It was really hot outside and I didn’t know where to go. I was just sad and lonely and I had no idea what I was doing. I hated that experience so much that I wanted to change it for other kids.”
By comparison, DuMont has spent his entire life in San Marino Unified School District and felt compelled to join Link Crew as a junior.
“A lot of people see seniors and juniors as these intimidating people on campus,” he said. “I wanted to make the connections with other students to bridge them to the upper class. I’m talking to people even in my grade whom I normally wouldn’t talk to.”
Link Crew is a yearlong effort that will absorb any mid-year transfers and keep students involved in activities throughout the year. Ahmad said as a freshman, she didn’t participate in anything and admitted it would have been nice to have someone “forcing” her to go to a game or attend a dance.
“I think things like this help students take a break from academics,” she said of Link Crew’s activities.
Ives, who works with faculty Robbin McCulloch and Courtney Rushing to coordinate Link Crew, said the effort is ultimately a student-run venture, in keeping with its national slogan (Students Helping Students Succeed).
“That’s what we’re looking for,” she said. “Leadership opportunities, mentoring and also some stress relief. We’re looking for ways for new students to have fun.”

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