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Annual Event Links Incoming Frosh to PVHS
Posted On:
Saturday, August 05, 2017
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Class of 2021 Orientation - August 4, 2017

Article courtesy of Gina Kim, SM Times 8/5/17

Transitioning from middle school to high school can be daunting for any incoming freshman. Pioneer Valley High School's annual Link Crew orientation day is filled with bonding activities and a campus tour that helps them ease into the next four years of their academic lives.

Hosted the week before school begins in the fall, from 8 a.m. to noon Friday, 150 upperclassmen Link Crew leaders and staff showcased all that the high school had to offer for the best possible academic and social experience. 

"It's a great way to alleviate stress that comes along with starting a new school," said Marcie Guerra, faculty member and Link Crew coordinator for the ninth annual event. The orientation allows incoming freshman to begin forming a strong, positive connection with the campus, she added. 

Crew leaders are juniors and seniors who serve to be mentors once they're accepted into the program, Baarstad said. They give up the last weeks of their summer every year to prepare for the orientation day event, putting up posters, decorating the campus and familiarizing themselves with their duties to lead the games.

During the first hour and a half, the 716 freshmen joined together to do quick ice-breaker activities, like Simon Says, to help them mingle with each other. 

"This is important to begin with because it allows them to step away from the person they came here with, because they probably won't be with that person once they're separated into different groups," Baarstad said.

The activities also help students build a sense of community through team success and apply their skills to reach goals. A Q&A segment, "What Every Freshman Should Know," with the students offered advice from avoiding procrastination to getting involved in clubs, leaving comfort zones to making supportive friends, Spirit Days, listening to teachers and, most importantly, how to "be loud and be proud to be a Panther." 

Shortly before 10 a.m., the students were split into 53 groups and sent off to a different classroom, each group joined by three Link Crew leaders. 

In a portable classroom adjacent to the gym, Link Crew leaders Jheremy Casabar, Lylah Sherrod and Kelsey Marshall kicked off activities with their group that focused entirely on each and every student's name -- from the origin of their name to their life story to finally ensuring that everyone in the group knew everyone else's name, remembered it and formed a connection.

The next activity, Team Juggling, focused on learning how to juggle a lot of different responsibilities for the next four years -- from having to deal with difficult classes, friends, social lives, sports, family time and extracurricular activities. 

Everyone sat in a circle and started with one ball. They tossed it to the person whose name they called out. By the third round, everyone went from their knees to their feet, with three balls thrown around to each other.

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