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Linking freshmen to Buffalo way of life
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Link leaders Sofia Tinajero and Maria Lozano give a tour of the school to this year’s Manteca High freshmen. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT

As the new Link Crew coordinator at Manteca High, Nina Norton could fall back on plenty of resources around campus.

For example, she has Ron Inderbitzin, the school’s athletic director, or perhaps fellow teachers Mary Monaghan and Jon DeRoos for help.

“I’m stepping on the shoulders of the others who came before me,” said Norton at Friday’s freshmen orientation.

She’s also has instructor Daniel Hanson for immediate assistance.

But most importantly, Norton has the support of her Link leaders. In this case, the school has about 90 upperclassmen, whose job is to make members of the Class of 2014 transition to the Buffalo way of life throughout the year.

Link Crew is a leadership program offered at many high schools nationwide. Made up predominantly of seniors and juniors, the leaders serve as positive role models to the newcomers on campus. They also serve as mentors and motivators.

 “For the first time at Manteca High, Link Crew is a club,” Norton said.

Link leaders will do their best to get youngsters involved in clubs, activities, and provide academic support when the progress reports are released.

“They’ll also be available to help them prepare for finals,” Norton said. “As freshmen, they’re taking finals for the first time.”

Manteca High has an estimated 470 ninth-grade students registered. But not all attended the freshmen function.

“The floor (at Winter Gymnasium) this morning was still overcrowded with students,” she said.

The many who did attend entered the gym and were swept up into the gauntlet led by the cheers of the Link Crew leaders.

Jesse Smith served as the town crier.

“He was the first to greet everybody,” Norton said.

She led the class in several get-acquainted exercises. From there, the youngsters were divided into small groups – all told, about 47 consisting of eight to 10 members – led by the Link leaders.

“They did some ice-breaking activities,” Norton said. “They also shared things about themselves (to the Link leaders).”

For freshmen, the tour of the school was equally as important as the Link Crew activities.

“They will know where to locate the restrooms and cafeteria on the first day of school,” Norton said.

The first day of school is Monday.