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Freshman orientation breaks ice for new Sierra freshmen
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Link Crew leader Jennifer Goulart was the hot dog while her counterpart Bridget Castillo came dressed as the mustard for freshmen orientation. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT
Bridget Castillo remembered the first official day at Sierra High.

Perhaps intimidated at first, her mind was put to ease thanks in part to the efforts of Link Crew.

“I had a really good freshmen orientation,” Castillo said on Wednesday.

A junior, she found herself in that very role, working with fellow Link Crew leader Jennifer Goulart. Together, they put members of Sierra High’s Class of 2013 through the various ice-breaking activities while sharing personal experiences of being in high school.

Anthony Chapman, who is in his fourth year as the Link Crew coordinator, explained that the objective of freshmen orientation is to provide a “link” between the ninth-grade class and that of the upperclassmen.

Among the ice-breaking activities included “64 Squares” consisting of sheets of paper placed on the floor.

“It was a hidden path (as marked on sheets) known only to Link Crew leaders,” Chapman said. “Involved was trial and error. Each freshman had to work together to find the right path.”

From there, the Link Crew leaders discussed with their group just what it took to be successful.

This year’s Link Crew is made up of 60 members, with all but one being junior or senior.

Their link with freshmen will go beyond orientation. Included are several activities in the planning stages, from a football tailgate party to making a 50-foot banana split and perhaps even a dance, according to Chapman.

Most of the 320 newcomers came from the Manteca Unified feeder schools of Stella Brockman, Brock Elliott, Nile Garden and Veritas.

For orientation, these students were randomly sorted out into groups of 10 and assigned to one or more Link Crew leaders.

The Link Crew leaders went through two days of training and were given the freedom to have fun with their role.

Castillo and Goulart, for example, took on the hotdog-on-a-stick theme. Goulart came dressed as a hot dog and was complemented by Castillo’s mustard-bottle costume.

Amanda Rosas provided toy hard hats purchased from the Dollar Tree Store to her group. She also picked up a roll of the yellow “caution” tape from Home Depot.

Chapman stressed the importance to his young leaders of serving as good examples on freshmen orientation.

“A lot of the freshmen will be looking up to you,” he said.

His hope here is that someday these ninth-grade students might join Link Crew.

Rosas also recalled her freshmen orientation experience.

“But my Link Crew leader wasn’t as fun as me,” she jokingly said.