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Record upperclassmen welcome freshmen
Ripon Link
Link Crew leaders at Ripon High were a combined 104 – the most ever in school history – that gathered in the gym just prior to Monday’s freshmen orientation. - photo by PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED

Shannon Johnson is a Link Crew leader at Ripon High.

She’s one of 104 upperclassmen at the school involved in this student leadership program designed to help newcomers made up predominantly of ninth-grade students transition in that first year in their new surroundings.

Monday welcomed members of the Class of 2023 at Link Crew’s freshmen orientation held in the RHS gym.

Nearly 300 make up this year’s group of newbies.

“That’s the most (freshmen) we’ve ever had at the school,” said advisor Jill Mortensen, who is in her 14th year in the RHS Link Crew program.

She was impressed with the large number of students who got involved in Link Crew this year. “We’ve had over 100 (Link leaders) a few years earlier,” she said.

Vice Principal Victor Ramirez encouraged these ninth graders to meet new people and learn their names during the morning gathering in the gym.

One Link leader, along those lines, said: “Enjoy your time here.”

Link Crew kick things off by doing a variety of ice-breaking activities, including “Ha-ha-ha,” which requires focus, concentration and coordination in order to succeed.

A group consisting of Link leaders and freshmen, between eight through 15, will lay face up on the floor, joined together in a zig-zag formation – Johnson and her group were sprawled out on the gym floor – while uttering “ha-ha” along the way.

Teachers Rod Wright and Ann Pendleton, meanwhile, introduced students to the SuperFan check-in app worth points and valuable prizes during the school year.

Mortensen hopes that freshmen will download and use this online vehicle to get involved in school events and sports activities.

“Just coming here today was worth one point (in SuperFan),” she said.

In addition, Mortensen credited band instructor Geoff Felver and Senora McPherson for helping organize this year’s RHS freshmen orientation.