• August 18, 2019

Link Crew takes hold at Ector - Odessa American: News

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Growing student leaders Link Crew takes hold at Ector

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Posted: Monday, August 12, 2019 4:45 pm

There’s a new leadership group at Ector College Prep Success Academy and they’ve already started to take hold.

Started by Reagan Paquette, one of the in-district charter school’s assistant principals, the group is called Link Crew. It is a transition program that welcomes sixth graders and makes them feel comfortable throughout their first year in middle school. Members were chosen through an interview process.

School starts for Ector on Aug. 21. The rest of Ector County Independent School District begins Aug. 19.

Leaders underwent two days of training before welcoming the sixth graders to campus during orientation. Studies show that if students have a positive experience their first year of middle school their chance for success increases dramatically, Paquette wrote.

About 50 Link Crew leaders and 200 sixth graders converged on Ector Monday. Around mid-morning, the Link Crew leaders were touring students around the campus.

“We’re trying to build student leaders on campus,” Paquette said. “We want them to be the role models. They’re in groups right now, so when school starts we wanted the sixth graders to at least know a familiar face if they needed help in the hallways or knowing more information.”

Paquette planned to meet with them after the tour and then Principal Charles Quintela offered a motivational speech. Students also participated in activities and team building and were introduced to administrators.

“But overall, we just wanted them to not be scared to come to school on the first day of school and we also want to build leadership skills in our current students who might not always have the opportunity to do that, or might not think they can. A lot of them didn’t think they could. A lot of them didn’t even think they could take these kids on a tour and they’re doing amazing,” Paquette said.

“They were very nervous at first, but we told them we wanted them to own their groups,” she added.

One group bought Hawaiian leis so they would match, Paquette said.

They were all going to receive T-shirts and a pizza lunch.

Crystal Lopez, a 12-year-old incoming seventh-grader, was taking about 10 students around the campus.

“I thought it was pretty cool because I like helping kids and I’m excited that I get to help them on their first year of middle school,” Lopez said.

She said she wanted to join Link Crew because she likes being there to help others. Lopez said her group was well behaved.

“They listen very well. They’re really respectful,” she said.

Brandy Arias, a 13-year-old incoming eighth-grader, said she wanted to help the younger students and make the “school more organized and better.” Arias added that it makes her happy to be able to help the younger students.

“I’m glad because I get to show them around the school so they can know and they won’t be scared when they first come. I like it. It’s kind of making me want to be a teacher when I grow up,” Arias said.

Adiel Nunez, an 11-year-old incoming sixth grader, said the leaders did a good job.

“We learned a lot. … I won’t get as lost as easy and it will be easier to get around,” Nunez said.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people here and it makes me feel more comfortable. … The first time I came in, I was nervous. I didn’t know what to do and I started talking to people and it got easier,” he added.

During his talk, Quintela said people at school are there to help the students and be resources for them. He added that students should be positive and respectful.

He told the story of a baby elephant in a circus that was kept in his spot by a stake and a rope tied to his ankle. As a young elephant, it tried to break free but couldn’t. As it got older, he came to believe he couldn’t even though he was big enough to rip the stake out.

“I’m here to tell you as you get older you’re going to be given the tools to be great,” Quintela said.

He added that the students should never give up. For example, if they don’t read at grade level when they get to Ector, by the time they leave they will.

Angela Disley, a college connection coach with academic partnerships at Odessa College, was on hand to introduce herself.

Paquette said Ector has a partnership with OC this year and they will attend the school’s open house and do a couple of “invasions” where students and professors spend the day at a school to do activities and introduce students to college. 

Susie Nedd, T3M coursework supervisor, said the Link Crew program is interesting because it brings older students together with the younger ones.

“… Seeing them be leaders on the campus makes them walk different, talk different. (It) makes them be an example. It’s been really neat seeing that take place today,” Nedd said.

“It’s very beneficial both for the leaders and for the Link Crew members … It kinds of put them with someone that they know, so the first day of school they come in and they recognize faces, they know who the leaders were and they’re not just so alone,” Nedd added.

 The T3M model is designed to provide academic and behavior support to struggling students. This includes at-risk students, English language learners, special education and intentional non-learners who show excessive misbehavior, office discipline referrals, in school and out of school suspensions.

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