They Have Special Connection to SMHS Link Crew’s Work

smhs link crew
Photo by Zane Hill / OUTLOOK
Connie Tran, Alexander Ramsay and Juan Castellanos say they built upon their unique experiences as new San Marino High School students when they decided to join Link Crew as leaders.

Every year, San Marino High School entrusts a group of student leaders with the task of easing the landing of the school’s incoming freshmen and transfers, an experience to which each of those leaders can relate.
Whether born and raised in San Marino or having just recently moved to the community, new students at SMHS have much to gain from the guidance of their assigned Link Crew leaders, the seniors, juniors and occasional sophomores who volunteer to usher newbies into the school.
Connie Tran said that when she joined SMHS midway through her freshman year after moving from Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, it was “I think my 13th school,” she said, quipping, “Hopefully this is my last one.” This is her second year as a Link Crew leader.
“Because I joined in the middle of the year, I was introduced into a group through Link Crew,” she explained. “They were really patient with me and it got me acclimated to the culture of the school and the academic rigor. It seemed like a lot of fun [to join], and I could give back to the new kids the experience that they deserve.”
Another of the crew’s leaders, Alexander Ramsay, has always been in San Marino schools. Nevertheless, being in a group led by SMHS’ then-Associated Student Body president and another upperclassman on the tennis team (a sport Ramsay plays) proved beneficial to him.
“I wanted to become a leader because I had such a great experience with mine,” said Ramsay, now a junior. “They were really kind and introduced us to their friends. I didn’t know any upperclassmen at the time and that was really cool.”
For Juan Castellanos, who lived in the El Sereno neighborhood of Los Angeles until his freshman year, having a supportive group to introduce him to the community and the high school at the same time was essential. Soccer has been his main extracurricular activity, and he splits his time between the SMHS team and a club team in El Sereno.
“Definitely a big change,” the senior said. “I’ve seen both sides, something I’m very grateful for. Just because they’re different doesn’t make it bad. In club soccer, everyone’s family in a way. You’re almost brothers in the field when you’re playing. When I came here, everyone already had their friends and family, so I would say that coming in here was difficult at first.”
Tran, who spoke to The Outlook after returning the previous night from a summer internship in Shenzhen, China, said she thinks that amid the emphasis on academics and extracurriculars, San Marino students don’t always find the best opportunities to socialize and build relationships; part of her job, she said, is to bridge friendships among separate groups of students.
“Link Crew gives them an opportunity to mix with different groups of people,” she said. “It’s a really good way to know people outside of your social circle and make new friends.”
Ramsay said he agreed that sometimes students are “too caught up” in school and don’t have enough social time in the balance.
“Especially in San Marino, there’s a majority of the focus on academics and building
your skills,” he said. “One that isn’t focused on is creating
great relationships with people, and that’s one of the most important skills in life.
“Being the best that you can be and performing to your potential is important here. I think the Link Crew leaders are a mentor to guide them to that.”
The leaders also help new students triangulate their sense of the SMHS campus, find clubs and organizations to join and pick the right classes for them. Castellanos said that when he was new to San Marino, he appreciated the ability to “just shoot a text” to his Link Crew leader whenever he had a question.
“I didn’t even know this city existed, and then all of a sudden I was going to San Marino High School,” he said. “For the first three weeks, I was eating lunch by myself. My whole friend group now, our backgrounds are identical: We all came to San Marino from other places. If I didn’t have Link Crew, there would have been a few more weeks” of eating alone.
At the end of the day, Tran added, school is about challenging yourself within your comfort zone, as opposed to the tendency to overload your schedule with arduous classwork and extra commitments.
“Sometimes it’s fine to go at a pace you’re comfortable with,” she said.

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