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Linking freshmen with Ripon Tribe
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From left, Link Crew leader Suzanne Turner, advisor Jill Mortensen, and Sarah Thompson helped put together Tuesdays freshmen event at Ripon High. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT / The Bulletin

A year ago, Sarah Thompson was a freshman at Ripon High.

She arrived there via Colony Oak Elementary School and was quickly thrown into the mix with other ninth-grade students.

That was Thompson’s introduction to Link Crew. Like many, she came in with her doubts but some of it was quickly erased with the ice-breaking activities.

“I met 20 new people that day,” she recalled.

Thompson, thankfully, was a willing participant of the process that’s designed to get newcomers involved in the high school experience.

She’s now a Link Crew leader and was one of 34 at Tuesday’s freshmen assembly.

“I like helping people,” she said as part of her reason for joining the mentoring group. “For me, there’s not too much difference in age (with freshmen).”

Thompson and senior Suzanne Turner helped coordinate this year’s Link Crew event consisting of a good portion of the 222 registered ninth graders at RHS, according to advisor Jill Mortensen, who is also the school’s activities director.

The newcomers were divvied into 18 groups and were whisked throughout the campus following the opening assembly held in the North Gym.

“The (back massage) is a quick icebreaker,” said Mortensen, who has seen her share of reaction from youngsters during this group exercise at the assembly.

Turner recalled the moment a few years ago when she had to give a complete stranger a back rub as a freshman. She wasn’t totally comfortable with that activity but now she has hand in orchestrating it.

Members of the Class of 2019 were welcomed on campus by Link Crew.

They were urged to become part of Ripon High’s “Tribe” whether in sports, clubs, Junior Reserved Officers Training Corp or Future Farmers of America, to name a few.

Turner, for example, put her mark in the school as a founding member of the Taste Bud Club and the Tech Club.

“There’s something for everyone on campus,” Mortensen added.

The first day of school was Wednesday for Ripon Unified students.