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DLHS to provide 'Link' for students

Remember that first year of high school? For many, the experience is a confusing one.

In fact, surveys have shown less than half of all incoming freshmen have any feeling of connection to their new school.

"There is research out there showing that kids are having difficultly transitioning to high school," said Detroit Lakes School Superintendent Lowell Niklaus. "The administration at the high school has been looking at ways to better meet the needs of those kids coming into high school (from middle school)."

DLHS Principal Steve Morben and Mike Labine, high school math instructor, were at last Monday's meeting of the Detroit Lakes School Board to present a proposal for a new ninth grade transition program to be implemented at DL High School for the 2007-08 school year.

"I spent 18 years at the middle school before I moved to the high school this year," said Labine. "I've seen how kids struggle... how hard students work on the transition (to high school)."

Seeking a way to help ease that struggle, Labine heard about an innovative, "climate changing" new program known as Link Crew.

This program, which welcomed over 700,000 incoming freshmen to schools in the United States and Canada in August 2006, uses junior and senior class "Link Leaders" to serve as volunteer mentors for those incoming freshmen.

These "Link Leaders" work with freshmen students directly, serving as motivators, leaders, teachers and role models "who guide the freshmen to discover what it takes to be successful during the transition to high school," according to information from the program's official Web site,

"A year with Link Crew begins with a spirited and interactive freshmen orientation at the start of the school year," the Web site states.

This general assembly orientation basically takes the form of a party, with the freshmen being welcomed with enthusiasm and excitement, and a series of planned activities to "break the ice" between the students and their Link Leaders.

Though ninth grade students have always taken part in orientation day activities, one of the differences of the Link Crew program is that the Link Leaders plan a series of social and academic gatherings throughout the year, Labine noted.

"It's more than just back to school... it's year round," he explained.

Additional initiatives being planned to assist with freshman transition, according to Morben, include an eight-period class schedule (differing from the seven-period schedule in grades 10-12), which would include 45-minute class periods.

This would allow for more flexible scheduling and an increased number of elective offerings, Morben noted.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454