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Class of 2026 starting out 275 strong
RHS frosh
Link Crew leader Dillon Wiebe celebrates a win in the balloon-popping activity involving his ninth-grade girls.

Students in Ripon Unified return to the classroom today.

But for most of the freshmen at Ripon High, their back-to-school experience kicked off Tuesday morning at the North Gym.

Members of the school’s Class of 2026 – about 275 in all, according to Principal Keith Rangel – engaged in ice-breaking activities on this unofficial first day led by Link Crew leaders.

This was actually the second time that the newcomers gathered at RHS. Back in February, they were here for eighth-grade day.

“We’re excited to have you here,” said Rangel, addressing the group at the freshmen orientation event.

Link Crew advisor Jill Mortensen was thrilled to see the ninth graders engage in the morning of fun and games – with a purpose, of course – in the gym.

 “It begins today,” she said.

Link Crew is a high school transition program for freshmen, with leaders or involved upperclassmen serving as mentors to the newest group of Indians throughout the school year.

They’re all part of the same process.

A year ago, RHS freshmen orientation was held in the stadium because of the COVID-19 safety protocols. Before that, it was a virtual Link Crew experience for the Class of 2024.

Mortensen and her fellow Link Crew advisor Jill McPherson prepared the 55 Link Crew leaders the past week this day in an event called “Burritos, Bonding & Training.”

The message to the freshmen was to the point: Get Involved.

“Know what’s going on,” added Athletic Director Rod Wright, who was joined by RHS Super Fan partner Ann Pendleton is promoting this loyalty reward app to freshmen.

Rangel introduced his administrative staff of Vice Principal Victor Ramirez and Vice Principal Alisha Vasche.

Freshmen were encouraged to take part in sports, clubs, AP courses, and school activities such as dances, rallies, and cheer.

“There’s so much on campus for you to do,” Mortensen said.

Classes at RHS begins today for some 1,050 students – district-wise, they’ll make up the over 3,200 enrolled at Ripon Elementary, Ripona, Colony Oak, Park View, Weston and Harvest High on this official first day of the 2022=23 school year.