The last time Manteca High held a Link Crew-led freshmen orientation was two years ago,
That was pre-COVID 19 and the term ‘distance learning’ wasn’t even part of the educational vernacular.
“It was a little rough getting back into the swing of things,” said Mary Ann Tolbert, who has served as the Link Crew advisor at the school for the past seven years.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, MHS scrapped plans of conducting the traditional Link Crew’s end-of-the-summer break program that welcomes ninth graders to their new surroundings.
Last year’s MHS freshmen met with Link Crew leaders online, receiving tours of the school during their in-person learning return to the classroom in November and January.
On Wednesday, Tolbert and members of Link Crew welcomed 463 newcomers to campus at Guss Schmiedt Field.
Together, they represent the Class of 2025.
As usual, the large outdoor gathering took place early in the morning. Tolbert noted there’s a reason for that.
“We want to get (freshmen) involved in playing the ice-breaking games along with the introductions and roundup before the weather gets too hot,” she said.
Forecast on this day called for triple digits.
The last time MHS conducted freshmen orientation, Link Crew leader Shylea Hollins was a few months removed from Woodward Elementary School – one of several feeder sites to the century-old high school.
“It was a major jump,” said Hollins, recalling her experience of going from eighth grade to high school.
One of the challenges for Link Crew was recruiting leaders who will serve as mentors to their assigned group of ninth graders during the school year.
“We only had four or five returning from a year ago,” Tolbert said.
Hollins was among the first-time leaders. She was assigned a large group and took charge in leading her freshmen in games and activities.
The goal, she said, is to “break them out of their shell.”
Hollins was familiar with this process. She planned to tell her group of how she became involved in school by playing both volleyball and basketball for the Buffaloes.
As far as the tour of campus, Tolbert said that took a little bit of maneuvering given the extreme makeover consisting of a new 2,250-seat gym / swimming pool complex – expected to be completed by August 2022 – that’s under construction.
The stadium also featured some new touches including the wrought iron fencing.
Students will return to the classroom on Thursday, Aug. 5, under a new 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. schedule and COVID-19 safety protocols in place.