Last week, we talked about our two student-led welcome programs for new students from the perspective of the newcomer. This week, two Grade 12 leaders share their experience helping new Senior School students settle in. Take a look at the Photo Gallery for high-resolution, download-able images from the Link Leader morning.
Coming back to school four days earlier than the other students from your summer break may not sound like a fun thing to do for a Grade 12 student, but being back for Link Leader was actually the best way to start my last year of high school. The training that we received created a great bond between us Link Leaders, and we all really enjoyed it, as we played icebreaker games and asked each other questions. We were partnered up and each partner was given a list of new students who would be in our Link group that we had to contact and invite to the Link program. As most of the people in my group were boarders, like me, I went over to each of their rooms and told them about the fun things that we had in store for them.
On orientation day, everyone gathered in the single gym and played a few team-building games before dispersing into different classrooms. We Link Leaders introduced ourselves and we began games such as Lifestory, where we try to get them to know more about each other as they tell stories about their lives, and 40 Questions, where we pick a random number from one to 40 and answer a question that corresponds to the number. We ended with a campus tour and gave them some tips about surviving high school.
The Link program allows the new students to bond with each other before they start school, which made them more comfortable being in a new environment. Looking back, Link program not only helped the new students but it also taught the Link Leaders many new things as well.
My initial reason for applying to the Link Leader program was because of a sense of empathy that I had for new students, which derived from my first experiences at SMUS. Throughout the first few days of the program I realized that this was not only a chance to give these new students the opportunities I never had, but also a chance for myself to develop as both a leader and a person.
We did three days of intensive training leading up to the big day. When the event finally arrived we cheered the many nervous faces of new students into the gym, a reminder of exactly how I felt when I first came to SMUS. We started off with some simple activities as a big group playing games like Simon Says or trying to sort ourselves in order of birth date, without talking, as fast as we could. This was followed by us all breaking off into smaller groups of around 12 people including the two Grade 12 leaders. We started off with some name games to help us get to know each other better and then some games that involved us working together as a team. Very quickly we noticed the students warming up to each other and becoming much more comfortable and relaxed than they were on their first arrival. Before heading to lunch as a group, we gave the students a tour of campus, showing them specifically where certain classrooms were. I knew from experience that on that first day, when you’re juggling a million things in your mind, the last thing you want is to be worried about getting to the right classroom.
By the end of the day it was clear that all of us had benefited from the program and made some friends along the way.