Imagine this: it is one of the last day of summer, and normally, one would expect students to be at home, or out in the community making the most of their final moments. For over 150 upperclassman in Gahanna, however, this was not the case - they wanted to spend to their precious last days of summer training to lead freshman through their first day of high school. Each year, the GLHS Link Crew welcomes hundreds of ninth graders to the high school on the freshman-only day of classes.
Many freshman come into GLHS tired, and uninterested in anything the leaders have to say. As the day goes on, they step out of their “comfort zone,” and break away from their “bungee buddy”. This day is a valuable tool of introduction into the GLHS family. Freshman Kyle Lark recalled that on his first day of high school, “My group leaders were friendly and inviting and they gave me lots of great tips for my freshman year.”
Freshman day sets the tone for the next four years. The students are urged to get involved in the GLHS community, and to make the most of each day. The amazing Link Crew directors, Mrs. Zofcin and Mrs. Germany, plan the day out perfectly, in the hopes they can get these students involved at GLHS on Day One.
Around a week before, some of the best leaders in Gahanna gather for two days training in the back gym of the high school. It is worth mentioning that the back gym of the school does not have an adequate AC system, but they nevertheless persisted. In this stifling room, the leaders go through the activities that are used to introduce the freshman to the high school. Then, a day before classes start for the rest of the students, the leaders get to the school by 6:30AM, to prepare their rooms and the school for the new class of freshman.
The freshman’s first experience of high school is walking into a “tunnel” of link crew leaders welcoming them into the gym, and groups of the leaders dancing and clapping in the bleachers. The Link Crew leaders’ motivational actions are designed to get the students up and participating one of their most important days of high school.
A long standing discussion lead by Mrs. Zofcin (and the other leaders before her) describes how students should treat every day like a dollar. If they think wasting a dollar a day is okay, they will soon find themselves broke. This lecture becomes a cornerstone lesson of high school, as students will remember it well into their educational careers and later on in life.
Initially, the freshman and leaders spend the first two hours in the gym doing large group activities. Then, students go with their leaders to pre-designated classrooms. This year, there were over sixty groups, each with nine-to-ten freshman and two upperclassmen leaders. The leaders then go through additional activities, ranging from simple name games to more complex group strategy challenges. Leaders also took their group on a tour of the school, which was followed by lunch and more discussion in the gym. Finally, leaders close the day with a “mini” run-through of a typical schedule. Link Crew leaders line the hallways to help the freshman get to each class, and practice what a normal day will be like.
Link Crew connections do not end after the first day of school. Leaders keep in contact with their group and will lead them again through additional events such as the Freshman Retreat, Freshman Tailgate, and more. Link Crew leaders gain valuable skills working with freshman. As first year leader and junior Ciana Holloway said, “All in all, I feel like I’m doing something good for the school…[and] I’m gaining valuable leadership skills as well.” Leaders take this opportunity to be a strong role model for the freshman as they enter the GLHS community.
This very important day would not be possible without the leadership of Mrs. Zofcin and Mrs. Germany. These two had been preparing for this day for weeks in advance, carefully planning out each and every moment. Mrs. Zofcin told leaders that “It is incredible to see so many upperclassmen give up their time in the summer to learn leadership skills so they can make an impact on our school.” Their invaluable lessons created many more leaders within Gahanna, as they worked tirelessly to help welcome 600+ freshman to GLHS.
By the end of freshman day, the leaders were exhausted: they have just given up their last day of summer for something bigger than themselves, as the selfless students of Gahanna. They go out of their way to make something for the future generations, which is evident every year during Freshman Day. Link Crew is a hallmark of Gahanna culture, and truly demonstrates what this community is truly about.