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August 30, 2013

OHS peer program enters seventh year

By Mark Boshnack Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — A peer-mentoring program for Oneonta High School students designed to help freshmen make the transition has entered its seventh year.

Several of those who talked about the Link Crew program at Thursday’s orientation in the gymnasium said it will be helpful. This year, the program is providing about 40 juniors and seniors to work with the freshman class of 130.

“It’s a very important program,” said Oneonta High School Principal Thomas Brindley. One of the biggest obstacles to student success is the lack of a feeling of connection to their school, he said, and this program is designed to address that.

This is a year-long program designed to address the stress of making the transition. Leaders make a commitment to help freshmen be successful both academically and socially, program coordinator Lisa Lutsic said. There are 14 groups with two or three link leaders.

“It helps students become part of the Oneonta High School community,” she said.

One of the leaders is junior Kaitlin Shaver, who likes having the opportunity to help freshmen get through high school.

“I was really scared coming in (to high school),” she said, but being part of Link Crew made it easier to start by knowing she had a friend.

Freshman Nick Giacomelli said he enjoyed the day.

“It showed you how much fun you will have in high school,” he said.

Leader Kaitlyn Chopra said it makes the transition to high school a little easier.

“I remember being there myself,” she said. “It was helpful knowing there were upperclassmen I can turn to whenever I need.”

Freshman Keira Layman said about the session: “I thought it was a good experience.”

Thursday’s activities ran from 8 to 11:30 a.m., and built slowly with group activities that including learning names, then got into more personal areas, Lutsic said.

“It’s a bonding experience,” she said.

During the year, leaders will meet with their students every two or three weeks at lunch to check to see how things are progressing.

“It has really changed the culture here,” Lutsic said.