Apollo High School juniors and seniors welcome Class of 2021 on first day of school

Incoming freshmen to Apollo High School recieved cheers and high-fives as they walked into the gym on the first day at their new school.  Juniors and seniors  spent over twelve hours of planning and preparing to support the class of 2021’s transition to high school life. Tuesday, September 5, was the first day of classes for the entering 9th graders and had the school ‘to themselves’ that day as their junior and senior mentors helped them successfully transition by addressing the three fundamental transition needs that every student has: safety, information and connection. 

The program, known as Link Crew, allows students to have a trusted source of safety from their first moments at Apollo High School.  The program focuses the information dissemination process through the student-to-student connection both one-on-one and in small groups.  This makes it far more likely that critical information is received and remembered.  Link Crew also creates a structure that connects every incoming freshman with a caring upperclassman from their first day through the end of their freshmen year.

“It’s really an opportunity for students in 11th and 12th grade to welcome all of these new students to our Apollo Eagle family, build connections and provide the freshmen with the necessary support to successfully navigate this significant transition and start their high school experience on a positive note,” said Nickole Phipps, Link Crew Coordinator.  “Link Crew provides the structure for freshmen to receive support and guidance from juniors and seniors who have been through the challenges that high school poses, and understand that the transition to a larger school can sometimes be overwhelming.”

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“There are two link leaders for every 8-10 freshmen,” shared Phipps. “Link Crew's goal is to provide freshmen with a structure in which students make real connections with each other thus increasing school safety and reducing incidence of bullying with anti-bullying education.” Through this program, freshmen learn that people at school care about them and their success and leaders experience increased self-esteem as well as overall character development.

Once students were welcomed, there was a spirited and interactive opening assembly which was led by the Link Grew Coordinators.  After that, the freshman and leaders split into their small “crews” led by the trained student Link Crew Leaders.  After the small group activities, there was a school tour led by the leaders.  Lastly, the students ended the day with a thoughtful, inspiring closing assembly led by the coordinators. 

The rest of the school year will include:

  • Academic Follow Ups- Link Leaders support freshmen 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 their freshmen on a more individual basis.

This year’s Link Crew Coordinators went through training supported by Partner for Student Success (PFSS), a partnership of school districts, businesses, educational institutions, community agencies and funders that work to serve the communities of the St. Cloud Area, Sartell-St. Stephen, and Sauk Rapids-Rice School Districts.  The mission of PFSS is to unite the greater St. Cloud community in the collective pursuit of student success with a focus on the cradle to career continuum, which includes academic and technical skills, career exposure and experiences, social-emotional learning and civic engagement.

“The additional training and support we received from PFSS was instrumental in strengthening the entire Link Crew program and allowing us to implement it with full fidelity. We were able to provide the training necessary for the junior and senior Link Crew leaders, and in turn, they will be fully equipped to support the incoming 9th grade students,” shared Phipps. “We definitely could not have made this happen without their collaboration and support.”

For more information, please contact Nickole Phipps at 320-253-1600 ext. 2590 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Link Crew is a high school transition program that increases freshman success. Members of the junior and senior class are trained to be yearlong Link Leaders who act as positive role models, motivators, mentors, and teachers helping guide the freshmen to discover what it takes to be successful during this pivotal transition to high school.  This program is built on the belief that students can help students succeed.  As freshmen success increases, the benefits to the school culture and climate become apparent; Link Crew schools report having greater connection, increased extracurricular participation, fewer discipline issues and greater pride and spirit. Additionally, the older students who serve as mentors gain lifelong leadership skills and report a higher degree of empathy, compassion and self-esteem, often going on to continue making service a part of their lives.

For more information about the Link Crew program, please visit the website at: www.boomerangproject.com.

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