Etc. - 09/11/09


Gretchen Hormel-Tomkins, a resource development specialist with WSU GEAR UP, said juniors and seniors linked 427 freshmen with Walla Walla High School during orientation Aug. 24. Eighty-eight upperclassmen completed nine hours of Link Crew training before Walla Walla High School's freshman orientation.

Link Crew is a high school transition program that increases freshman success. Trained as link leaders, members of the junior and senior class serve as positive role models, motivators, mentors and teachers, helping freshmen discover what it takes to be successful during their high school transition.

Freshman class success becomes high school success, benefitting the school in numerous ways.

Link Crew schools report having greater connection, increased extracurricular participation, fewer discipline issues and greater pride and spirit, Gretchen said.

Freshman Orientation featured a welcome tunnel and assembly, bleacher cheers and various big-group activities led by Jillian DeBritz, Link Crew facilitator.

Link Crew student leaders were in charge of small group sessions in classrooms, to introduce freshmen to new friends on a new school campus, and provide tips on how to be successful at high school. The small group sessions also included a campus tour and group photos at Wa-Hi's Spirit Rock.

Link Crew Coordinators/Support Staff: Mike Gwinn and Marika Tomkins, WSU GEAR UP; Pat Hanford, Wa-Hi Career Center; Julie Laufenburg, Wa-Hi art instructor; Matt Shaw and Carrina Stillman, Wa-Hi English instructors.

Five Wa-Hi ASB student volunteers and two Pioneer GEAR UP student volunteers helped with such tasks as orientation preparation and taking care of helpful details during orientation. A partnership between Walla Walla Public Schools and Washington State University GEAR UP helped make Wa-Hi's first annual link between middle school and high school possible.


A Walla Walla High School Class of 2010 Graduation Toolkit is now available online. The new resource helps educators and families understand state graduation requirements. The tool kit will be periodically updated with new materials. See Graduation toolkit at


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