Building Better Schools: Whitmer High School welcomes freshmen with new program

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 4:57 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - A new school and a new academic year can be a stressful time for high school freshmen.

Yet a new program at Whitmer High School is helping students transition.

Ninth graders at Whitmer High School will have much-needed support this year, thanks to Link Crew − a new program that partners freshmen with upperclassmen.

“Our goal is to put our ninth graders in contact with a junior or senior that can show them around the school and give them someone to reach out to if they need some help,” Thomas Ziems, Whitmer Associate Principal, said.

Freshman and link leaders were paired during the freshmen orientation, and to school leaders’ surprise, it wasn’t challenging to find upperclassmen who wanted to help.

“I saw the email, and I signed up immediately. I had a very rough freshman year, and so I wanted to do my best to help this year’s freshmen in any way that I could,” Whitmer senior Hannah Mudse.

Link crew leaders are helping 20 to 26 classes navigate and balance academics with sports and clubs.

“They’re getting stressed, and they’re texting me for help, so that’s really good because I get to help them and talk them through it. Five of them text me every day just asking me random questions about the first day of school, where do I go and I left class, and I would help them around or just basic questions about football games or sports events, just anything, and they reach out to me, and I’m glad to help them out,” senior Katlyn Habegger said.

So what do upperclassmen get out of the deal? School officials said leadership skills.

“Our goal is to train leaders to be even better so to give them the opportunity to think on their feet, and we talk a lot about not improv but the idea of how we can take a situation and make it better and approve up on it in a positive way,” Ziems said.

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