By Rosemary Leonetti
Because of a program called LINK, sixth-graders entering Lynbrook South Middle School for the first time will be able to lean on some very helpful eighth-grade buddies for support.
Recognizing how difficult the transition to middle school can sometimes be, guidance counselor Jennifer Arena started the program several years ago.
LINK, which stands for Lynbrook Students Independently Networking Kids, enlists eighth-graders to pair with incoming sixth-graders. At their first LINK meeting, the older students facilitated icebreaker activities and answered questions about sports, clubs, lockers and classes. The eighth-graders will continue to meet with their younger partners throughout the year to strengthen the bonds between them and provide ongoing support.
Throughout the first few months of school, the eighth-grade volunteers will each be responsible for a group of sixth-graders, so that every incoming student has at least one older buddy. Ms. Arena has found that the older students reap as many rewards as their sixth-grade buddies. In acting as role models, they enjoy the added sense of responsibility and gain valuable leadership skills along the way.
LINK was designed as a transition program to help the sixth-graders adjust to their new life at the middle school. However, many of the relationships formed during these crucial months remain strong throughout the year.
“I had more than 80 eighth-graders join the program this year and I am confident they will all rise to the challenge as the year unfolds,” said Ms. Arena. “In past years, sixth-graders have shared with me that they find comfort in knowing a few older students in the building. It helps them feel at ease to be greeted with a friendly smile from a familiar face.”