When Bryan McCray, ‘22, arrived at Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School his freshman year, he didn’t know anyone. Coming from a small, homogenous, private school in Oakland, there were just 10 students in his eighth-grade class.
“I didn't know anybody, so it was a little difficult making friends at first because I had never had to introduce myself to other people my age before like that,” Bryan recalled.
Bryan McCray Class of 2022
As a first-year student at SJND, Bryan participated in the school’s Link Crew program, and the upperclassmen mentors he met there shaped his high school experience for the better. It also motivated him to become a mentor the following year, and he’s been involved with Link Crew ever since.
“My Link Crew leader was the best,” he said. “She was just a really good friend to me. The best thing that she did for me was she offered to eat breakfast with me every day back when the school served breakfast. That just really helped me out, having somebody there for me to talk to. Another senior wasn't in my group, but he also took me under his wing and showed me around. I really owe it to them as to why I decided to join Link Crew sophomore, junior, and senior year.”
Link Crew is a high school transition program spearheaded by The Boomerang Project. The aim of the initiative is to connect incoming freshmen with upperclassmen mentors, providing the first-year students with support, guidance, and a positive high school experience.
According to The Boomerang Project, students that have a positive first year of high school are more likely to succeed during their time there. Link Crew also aims to build leaders and reduce bullying through its anti-bullying initiatives.
All grade nine students participate in Link Crew as part of their high school orientation, which aims to provide them with access to a community group. You’ll get to connect with your Link Crew leader and fellow students. It can make the prospect of a new school and new friends less intimidating. Additionally, you’ll have the chance to connect with your Link Crew leader at academic and social events. Your Link Crew leader is there for you and wants you to succeed.
Grade 10, 11, and 12 students can apply to be a Link Crew leader. After passing an interview, the selected leaders participate in a five-day training that prepares them to be a peer leader and help new students transition to high school.
“I just wanted to give back to the community that helped me out when I didn't know anybody,” Bryan said of his decision to be involved as a mentor in Link Crew. “I try to be there for the people in my link groups—the freshmen and the transfers.”