By JENNIKA INGRAM | Reporter
Link Crew, a program that pairs freshmen with senior students to help them transition smoothly into high school, gave a special presentation at the Palisades
Charter High School Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, September 24.
“It’s a program we have at the school in order to transition freshmen,” Campus Unification Director Giovanni Stewart said in a presentation to the board about a nationally recognized mentorship program taking place at the school.
“My job specifically is creating and identifying systems and culture for student advocacy,” he continued. “One thing I do is work with students, helping them to succeed, helping them to create a voice and feel valued, safe and respected on campus.”
Running for its third year at Pali High, Stewart explained how the program is evolving: “We’re doing a lot more follow up, in order to contact freshmen and keep in touch.”
Link Crew puts freshmen into small groups mentored by two upperclassmen, and they follow up throughout the year.
When Principal Pamela Magee asked Stewart if the program impacts students entering Pali High who are not technically freshmen, he assured her that it does.
“It is something that is repeated a couple of weeks after school has begun for those entering Pali older than freshman or those who missed the first round,” Stewart explained.
And Link Crew may be just as rewarding for the mentors as it is for the students.
Representatives for Link Crew shared eloquent and touching words of inspiration about the program during the board presentation.
“You’re sought out to be a mentor, but sometimes you can be more—you can be a friend,” one member shared. Others said the program helped them build confidence and taught them responsibility.
One student pointed out Link Crew is not only about creating one-on-one relationships; mentors can connect with vast numbers of freshmen and make lasting relationships.
“It’s not perfect,” Stewart said in response to Magee and the board. “I’m not saying every freshman had an amazing time. I think that more freshmen than not had a better time.”
In a Google survey distributed to Link Crew leaders, 100% of the students said it strengthened their leadership skills and that they would recommend or rejoin Link Crew.
“So, overwhelmingly a good experience for our leaders,” Stewart said.
The program had 300 applicants and accepted 100 leaders, after experiencing some growing pains last year when taking on 160 students proved too much to manage.
“I’m ecstatic that Link Crew will positively go along impacting freshmen for years to come as they embark on a new chapter in their lives, while I leave next spring to embark on a new chapter of mine,” said Raul Salazar, a Link Crew mentor, to conclude his presentation.