DOWNEY - After stomping, dancing, and cheering with Warren High's Link Crew, about 800 freshmen were put more at ease knowing they'd have nearly 120 student leaders and eight directors to lean on through a challenging first year.On Aug. 26 and 27, hints of uncertainty showed on the faces of freshman clustered in groups of old friends as everyone slowly piled into the gym at 9 a.m. Link Crew immediately began relaxing the freshmen through a series of icebreakers in which the crowd competed in a cheering contest, laughed at their mistakes in Simon-says, and participated in a battle-of-the-sexes balloon-popping game. "I do bleacher work and floor work, but I do activities to get the kids feeling comfortable," said leading spokesperson and head director, Robert Peterson. "You know, back rubs, Simon-says, stuff like that. On the floor, we're partnering up and getting to know each other better. I lead them." Every activity holds a purpose, such as silently organizing lines in the order of birthdays so that students are forced to be separated from their friends and forced to use teamwork so that they may claim themselves winners. "I expected to be sitting in rooms, but we ended up playing games," said incoming freshman, Kendall Zarate. "I was kind of nervous to be by myself, but then we met everybody." After games were played, groups were formed as leaders took the paired-up freshman into their designated areas around the school. The group sat in a circle and after introductions were made, a series of activities including the memorization of names while throwing up to four balls of tape in the air kept energy and laughter at a high between freshmen and their student leaders. "I think helping the freshmen and seeing how they start getting used to it and start having fun, because at first they come really intimidated and need to loosen up, and just watching them go through that process is fun," said student leader, Kenitza Carrillo. Though the laughter may be in the moment, every activity had actually been carefully planned and practiced by each leader in training several days previously. "We look for applicants who can hold good conversations and inspire the freshman," said another head director, Monique Willis. "We look for all different types of students: AP students, regular students, athletes, those who are involved in band, art, drama. We try to get a really wide selection of student body." Link Crew is a popular event at Warren High School in which 500 seniors and juniors have applied for over the past year to be a student leader, with only 120 students picked.
********** Published: September 4, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 20