Link Program creating leaders, building connections

Jacaob Hudinsky (the student on the far right, high-fiving) is a RHS senior and Link Leader participating at the conference.
Jacaob Hudinsky (the student on the far right, high-fiving) is a RHS senior and Link Leader participating at the conference.

Rockford High School Link Leaders recently participated in a Student Link Conference at Wayzata High School where more than 500 students represented schools from across Minnesota and Wisconsin. This conference, led by the Boomerang Project organization, emphasized the concept that they were not just leaders to their crew of ninth-grade students but also a part of a larger program that works to develop leaders and improve school cultures across the world.

Link Leaders were encouraged to develop and use the mnemonic device HOPE: Help Other People Everyday. Through a series of engaging activities, Link Leaders uncovered ways to further develop the relationships they’ve established with freshmen. Another element of the conference asked students to consider how the choices they make have lasting consequences both for their futures and the futures of those they interact with.

The connections made with others can have benefits long afterward. At Rockford, the staff has seen this to be true even with former Link Leaders who have gone on to college. Link Coordinator Caroline Young shared this message received this fall from a RHS Alumni:

“Just thought you and Mrs. Mattson might enjoy knowing that today I taught a class of college students how to play the flipper game from Link, complete with cheers whenever someone entered the middle. It was the best class period ever. Also the class is on leadership, which I am declaring a minor in, so Link was definitely one of the most productive uses of my time in high school. I just thought I should say thank you for giving me that opportunity.”

After the conference, Link Leaders had an opportunity to reflect on the experience and share their own stories. In those reflections, our Link Leaders reported that they were dramatically impacted by their own experiences with Link as freshmen and as upperclassmen.

“When asked how we had been helped, I said that I was helped by being welcomed into Rockford High School with open arms. Being the new kid can be very tough, but it was very easy for me because of how nice everyone was,” said RHS senior Zach Connell.

Cally Nielsen, also a senior, added: “I learned how I could impact the lives of others and feel really good about myself during the process. After being involved with Link, my life will never be the same. My new motto is ‘Aspire to Inspire.’ And I know for a fact when people are kind and caring, it rubs off and affects others.”

The RHS Link Crew program’s mission is to provide a successful transition experience to high school and create lasting connections amongst students. To learn more about Link Crew, contact Caroline Young or Nick Peterson, RHS Link Crew coordinators, at 763-477-5846.


Link Leaders from Rockford -— high school students that help incoming freshmen smoothly adjust to high school -— join their peers at a conference in Wayzata to learn from others and share what they’ve discovered by being part of the Link Program.