LinkCrew

Incoming freshman Hannah Divic, right, plays a game of pop the balloon with senior Allen Grakasian, left, during the LinkCrew Group Orientation for freshmen at Glendale High School. A total of about 600 freshmen will go through the two-day orientation. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer / August 9, 2012)

Half of Glendale High School's new freshman class packed the gym Thursday morning as teacher Kevin Ozar said, “Welcome to high school!”

Then he asked each student to give a shoulder massage to the one in front of them.

“It's the very first thing we do and they freak out,” Ozar said.

As a facilitator with Boomerang Project, Ozar started the day's first ice-breaker at the sixth annual Link Crew event — a half-day of activities, prompts and exercises that connect Glendale High's freshmen to its juniors and seniors.

After Ozar's initial announcement, he took a back seat to the seniors, who each coached 10 freshmen for the rest of the day as 45 groups of kids opened up to each other, learned names and shared what they'd like to accomplish in high school.

And then there was the wisdom that only the upperclassmen could impart, such as which drinking fountains could be trusted and which staircases are the best to climb.

“I told them where to go and where not to go around school,” said 17-year-old senior Josephine Lecussan. “If you're going to use the restroom, use this restroom,” she said.

Glendale football coach Chris Funaro and activities director Mary Hazlett also took a back seat to the day's activities, as student groups moved from the gym to senior-led activities in classrooms and campus tours.

“Our leaders — it gives them the opportunity to advise, inspire and encourage,” Hazlett said.

Each senior and junior needed to apply for Link Crew by writing an essay. Of those, Hazlett had to turn 50 away.

“Now that we've had Link Crew for six years, these juniors and seniors who have been through the process have said, ‘I'm going to do that when I'm that age,'” she said.

By the end of the first session, each group had exchanged phone numbers and Facebook information.

Fourteen-year-old freshman Jose Gomez said he came away from the day's events learning that bad decisions lead to worse consequences.

“I want to be successful, and this is how it will happen,” he said.

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