The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Lupton Renaissance Fund Update

Students participate in the Link Crew orientation at Bradley Central High
School.

GEAR UP Program Facilitates Fun High School Freshmen Orientation

Before school began, 500 freshmen in Bradley and Walker counties got a big welcome to high school from upper classmen, hoping to ease this sometimes difficult transition. Through the Learning for Living in the Link Crew program, students moving from Lake Forest Middle to Bradley Central High and Rossville Middle to Ridgeland High attended orientation sessions where they were welcomed and wowed, featuring a combination of opening and closing assemblies and two small group sessions.

The Bradley/Walker GEAR UP program is operated through the Center for Community Career Education at The University of Tennessee and funded by the U.S. Department of Education assisted in this effort.

Teachers were provided training through Learning for Living in the Link Crew program. The teachers then trained upper classmen to become Link Crew leaders. These student leaders will provide peer mentoring with social and academic support throughout the freshmen year to all freshmen at both schools. Link leaders also teach life skills lessons in freshman classrooms at various times during the year.

Seniors and juniors chosen to be Link Leaders are trained in team building activities, cooperative skill development and discussion skills. Link Leaders are trained in team building activities, cooperative skill development and discussion skills. They received a list of 12-14 freshmen to telephone and personally invite to the orientation. The Link Leaders then worked with these freshmen at orientation, and they will stay in touch throughout the school year. They become leaders, motivators, role models and teachers.

Link Crew is a school-community building program: Bradley Central High and Ridgeland High hope to see the school climate changing because of Link Crew. While creating a sense of comfort for the incoming students, the Link Crew concept also addresses the attitudes of the upperclassmen toward the freshmen, and respect for freshmen becomes the norm.

For more information, please contact Sandy Cole, Bradley/Walker GEAR UP, Project Director: (423)425-4477; Laura Fritz or Barbara Brayford, Ridgeland High Guidance Counselor: (706)820-9367 or Theresa Calfee, Bradley Central High: (423)476-0650.