Link Crew Tries to Build Close Connections From a Distance


Will Davison, Contributor

It has been known for a while now that this year’s school year is going to be different from normal as the big change to online school is made in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“We know this year is gonna be tough for everyone, but especially you guys,” Alex Paloglou said as he welcomed the freshmen to high school at the first meeting between Link Crew students and incoming freshmen. 

The “Link Crew” at San Rafael High School (SRHS) is an optional class for upperclassmen to help the incoming freshmen adapt to their new surroundings. Every year the Link Crew leaders at SRHS lead an orientation for incoming freshmen, giving them information on the school as well as a friendly face for any support.

This year, however, the orientation was much smaller as it was only set up by a couple of hard-working students. 

“We are fortunate that Link Crew was just made of awesome people,” said Ms. Padayachee, the teacher at SRHS who runs Link Crew. The rest of Link Crew leaders weren’t introduced to their group of freshmen until after the school year had started. Usually there’s upwards of two hours of interaction before the first day of school so they can make a connection. 

“We only had 15 minutes and we didn’t know any of the kids,” said senior Link Crew leader Noemi Chulo. Even in the time they had, it wasn’t used how might’ve been best. “We didn’t play games with them either or have icebreakers. We just tell them information,” added Noemi. In that meeting they also gave contact information to their group of freshmen. 

So far this year no one has heard about any freshman reaching out to get help. Chulo blames this on the lack of communication before the school year started.  “No one’s been having their freshman ask them for help because the freshman don’t know who you are,” Chulo added.

 “Before the school year started freshmen were reaching out asking questions , because we did the freshman orientation night,” said Ms. Padayachee. When nobody is reaching out or expressing the need for help there’s nothing really for the Link Crew leaders to do. 

The online aspect of the class makes it even harder for a connection to be formed between the freshmen and their Link Crew leaders. When they went into the freshmen classes, they couldn’t see the people they were supposed to be there to help and talk to.  “We ask them to turn on their cameras but a lot of them (the freshmen) just don’t. So that’s kinda awkward,” Chulo recalled her first experience with her group of freshmen. “We couldn’t see any of their faces.”

Another senior and Link Crew leader, Kimberly Gonzalez shared her thoughts about this year’s handling of the Link Crew. “It sucks ‘cause when I signed up to be in Link Crew I thought we were gonna be able to do all these fun activities and games with the freshman,” said Gonzalez. Games are an important part of the experience for Gonzalez. “If you have to do all the activities in person and physically meet them then they’ll feel more supported.” Gonzalez, who is a native Spanish speaker, is part of the group tasked with helping new English speakers. “They had questions for us about the system and about our experiences,” she said. Giving this information to these students new to the country is important, but she still had complaints about not being able to connect with the freshmen in her group. 

“The students said what they really feel like they need is to connect better with the freshman,” Padayachee said. In the coming weeks more efforts will be made to build those connections between freshmen and the Link Crew now that the freshmen have been given all the most important information.