Sybrina Hernandez and Cyndal Miller were all too familiar with the Link Crew ice-breaking activities during freshmen orientation at Manteca High.
A year ago, the two sophomores were newcomers to the school. They, too, were uncertain about the process of mixing in with strangers from the Manteca Unified feeder sites.
“I was the antisocial one,” said Hernandez, who spent just a year at Nile Garden Elementary School.
Miller was at Shasta Elementary School for only two months prior to coming to MHS. “I was more of a loner,” she recalled.
What a difference a year makes.
Hernandez and Miller are both Link Crew leaders, spending a pleasant Monday morning at Guss Schmiedt Field trying their best to encourage a group of newcomers to also trust in the process.
Link Crew is a high school transition program designed to welcome freshmen into their new environment while going that step beyond. Leaders such as Hernandez and Miller will spend the upcoming year serving as mentors to members of the Class of 2020, providing guidance and support.
For some, that process has already started.
Mary Ann Tolbert, who is the Link Crew advisor for the past three years, that the ice-breaking activities such as “Birdie on a Perch.”
That’s where the willing participants are paired up in twos and must determine their roles after circling around while mixing in with other members of the group reminiscent of musical chairs. The Link Crew leader will then facilitate instructions such as “Star fish” or “Titanic,” with participants having to quickly enact the poses as presented earlier in the game.
“It helps lighten the mood,” said Tolbert of the ice-breaking activity.
She added this year’s freshmen class is at 480 – up 55 from a year ago – making it one of largest classes at MHS.
Tolbert told the group that Link Crew is there to serve as a “safety net” during that first year. The key is getting involved in school, she noted.
Hernandez and Miller can attest to that.
They were among the 50 Link Crew leaders, with each selected to the leadership program based on their involvement in school.
Freshmen, who were given a tour of the school followed by a closing rally in front of Winter Gym, were encouraged to join a club or take part in music, performing arts, sports or other programs and activities offered at MHS.
The first day of school is Thursday.