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Manteca, Ripon provide link to incoming freshmen

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Manteca, Ripon provide link to incoming freshmen

Emilio Villalobos and Darnay Mack look over the schedule of Steve Crescini (center) prior to the start of Ripon High School’s link crew event Monday morning. The 2012/13 school year begins today.


POSTED August 7, 2012 1:33 a.m.

Julien Watts isn’t afraid of becoming a part of the Manteca High family.

And he’s already looking the part.

During Monday morning’s Manteca High School Link Crew event for actual classes – a freshman orientation designed to give incoming students a sense of relief when they finally do step foot on campus – the former Sequoia Tiger had traded in his orange and black gear for a noticeably new Manteca High School hoodie.

Armed with a class schedule laden with advanced and honors classes and possessing a desire to become a part of the Manteca High School football program, Watts says that he’s actually excited to meet the challenges on the horizon.

“I’m going to get to meet a lot of cool people, and I’m upgrading to this great school – my last one was so small,” said the aspiring video game or graphic designer. “I’m pretty excited about it.”

The anxiety that comes with making the jump to the 9th grade, in the eyes of Link Crew mentors like Michael Huckaby, don’t necessarily have to be there.

When Huckaby first started at Manteca High he quickly discovered that those who participated in the Link Crew not only helped out in familiarizing students with the campus, but were also there on the first day should anything go wrong.

Simply paying it back to those who could get easily overwhelmed, he said, is something that he enjoys doing.

“I like helping people and assuming somewhat of a leadership position,” he said. “It helped me a lot, and for a lot of people, having all of those upperclassmen is really, really helpful. It’s good to have somebody that you can look up to.”

And program director and history teacher Nina Norton knows exactly how dedicated the students involved in the program can be.

Over the course of the last three years she has seen students make themselves available as role models in the hallway – helping to open lockers and point out where classrooms are – while the organization as a whole has kept up with the times by instituting a website.

Fundraisers and other spin-off programs – like C2G (Commitment to Graduate) which includes a mock graduation that shows students what it is that they’re aiming for – also help raise the profile of the program.

Then there are the age-old stereotypes that are smashed right before the eyes of the anxious incoming students.

At Ripon High School, senior Tanner Jordan – a football player – is anything but the guy that dunks weaker, younger kids into trashcans just because he’s able to do it.

Going out of his way to do what older students did for him during his early days on Ripon High’s campus, he said, is what being a part of Link Crew all about.

“It can be nerve-wracking because you really don’t know what to expect,” he said. “There were people who helped me a lot and that’s something that I’m glad that I’m able to do today. Not all seniors are out there to get freshman.”

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