Wilton High launches new freshman transition program

This upcoming school year, junior Noelle Roseman and senior Grace Kirchof will help launch a new orientation and transition program for freshmen at Wilton High School called Link Crew.

The Link Crew Transition Program, created by The Boomerang Project, is designed to welcome freshmen and make them feel comfortable their first year of high school.

The idea to bring Link Crew to Wilton High came from Safe School Climate Coordinator Kim Zemo and freshmen school counselors Deborah Marino and Pamela Scott.

“Ms. Zemo chose Noelle and I to be commissioners of Link Crew because of our leadership skills and involvement with the school,” said Grace.

Noelle is involved with the school’s climate committee, said Grace, and she is on Peervention’s executive board.

“They wanted to bring this program to the high school as a way to increase the success of the freshmen during their transition to the high school,” said Noelle.

“By implementing Link Crew, we are hoping to reduce the stigma of how upperclassmen act towards incoming freshmen.”

According to The Boomerang Project website, Link Crew is a year-long program with four components:

  • High school orientation: Relationships are built between the freshmen and older student mentors, also known as Link Leaders. Freshmen also receive information about succeeding in high school.

  • Academic follow-ups: Link Leaders support freshmen’s academic success and character development through structured classroom visits.

  • Social follow-ups: Link Leaders and freshmen connect outside the classroom at social events to increase student engagement and promote positive school climate.

  • Leader-initiated contacts: Link Leaders connect with freshmen on a more individual basis.

“By starting Link Crew at Wilton High School, we are putting in place a structure where freshmen will receive the necessary support they need to successfully navigate this transition,” said Grace.

Around 70 juniors and seniors will make up Wilton High School’s team of Link Leaders, said Noelle.

“While staff may not directly be involved in inner workings of Link Crew, on the first day of school they all will be,” she said.

“Grace and I designed T-shirts for all of the staff to wear on the first day to let the freshmen known that they are someone who they can go to for help and support.”

Groups of two to three Link Leaders will be paired with freshmen advisory groups of around 13 freshmen, said Grace.

Noelle said the Link Leaders will do activities with the freshmen every few weeks throughout the school year.

“The freshmen will get to develop and grow a connection with upperclassmen, helping to make their transition to the Wilton High School easier and more fun,” said Noelle.

Wilton High School’s Link Crew program will begin with two all-day training for Link Leaders.

To become Link Leaders, Grace said, juniors and seniors had to “fill out an interview questionnaire, create a video answering a question or be recommended by a teacher.”

After the all-day training sessions, Noelle said, the Link Leaders will be put in charge of this year’s freshmen orientation on Aug. 28.

“The freshman will be split up into groups and each have two to three Link Leaders instructing them in all of the activities and tours of Wilton High School,” she said.

Link Crew will be responsible for “several other activities” throughout the year, said Noelle.

“We will be holding different types of activities throughout the year for the freshman class, as well as working continuously in their advisories.”

Last year, Wilton High School launched a transition program called FLIGHT, designed to provide a smaller learning community for freshmen.

While FLIGHT “helps a lot more with the academics and work aspect,” Noelle said, “Link Crew is designed more to help with the social piece of the transition to the high school, as well as helping teach the freshmen how to navigate and function well in Wilton High School.”

Another difference between the two programs, said Grace, is that Link Crew will “mainly be run by students,” whereas FLIGHT is “run only by teachers.”

Scott and Marino are the leaders of the FLIGHT program, said Noelle, “so I know that we will be coordinating with them and what will occur in the FLIGHT program this year.”

“I believe that once people see what a positive feature Link Crew is and how much it will have an impact on students, that it will make people more excited to come to high school and hopefully be less stressed and anxious about it,” said Noelle.

“As someone with anxiety, I can say that I wish this was a program that was implemented when I was a freshman because it would have made me less anxious and worried about my transition.”

Once the community sees firsthand “the difference that this program can make for kids,” Noelle said, “there is hope that they will get behind it, support it and help us … make this something that becomes a tradition in Wilton.”

Grace said she is “so excited” to bring Link Crew to Wilton High School and “start a program that will leave a lasting impression on Wilton High, as well as the community.”

To learn more about the program, visit boomerangproject.com/high-school-transition.