CAMPUS: Various SCHS programs strive to support the incoming class of 2027


Ellen Vu

Within the Link crew program, juniors and seniors train in May to prepare to meet incoming freshmen.

As the 2022-2023 school year comes to an end, various programs at SCHS are preparing to welcome the incoming freshman class of 2027.

The Horizons program, initiated in the 2020-21 school year, is dedicated to holistically supporting freshman students, especially students who face greater external stressors that can impact their academic performance.

According to Horizons lead teacher Hao Pham, while freshmen take Horizons as a class in their schedule, the class is not solely focused on academics. Instead, it focuses on providing social, emotional, verbal and intrapersonal support in addition to building critical thinking skills.

“We want to provide everything and anything kids need to be more successful, not just at school. We talk so much about academics, but there is so much more beyond that,” Pham said. “Academics are great and have value, but life is more than a test score. When you are out there in the community, you got to know more than that.”

While teaching Freshman Foundations, Pham incorporates the theory of multiple intelligences, originally proposed by Harvard psychologist Howard Garderner. Through this practice, freshmen in the class may learn about topics like Sociology, Biology, Human Physiology, Physics and Psychology, giving them exposure to subjects they will later encounter in their high school careers.

“When kids come in as freshmen, it is overwhelming,” Pham said. “It is a big campus, a new campus. We (Horizons) want to have the space and resources to build confidence, to build critical thinking skills. We want to teach kids things that are real and relevant because that is what the world expects of you.”

Link Crew advisor Courtney Hayes hopes to prepare freshmen entering an unfamiliar environment through Link Crew, beginning by training Link leaders in May.

“I am really excited for incoming Link Crew leaders to learn about the program and take ownership and become equipped to be leaders for freshmen,” Hayes said. “The enthusiasm they bring is really exciting.”

As middle schoolers transition into high school, the music program creates exposure for incoming freshmen starting. As an upperclassman, junior saxophonist Soren Hirsch will help guide incoming freshmen into the program.

“There is a lot to be learned about the discipline and different skills it takes to be in a group like marching band,” Hirsch said. “We want more people and interest in the program, so people should definitely join even if they have a little interest in music.”

Hayes noted that due to the opening of MacDonald High School, class sizes will continue to decrease, benefitting the class of 2027 socially.

“The freshmen class will be smaller and it will be increasingly smaller, so it will feel less daunting,” Hayes said. “Even decreasing the numbers by 50 is a big deal, and it is a step in the right direction.”

As Link Crew leaders train from May and into the summer, Hayes values the diversity of the group. Unlike other activities on campus, Link Crew does not have a GPA requirement. According to Hayes, the goal is to comprise a group of upperclassmen that reflect the various students who make up the student body to allow for representation and belonging.

“Our whole student body is not on ASB. Our whole student body is not an athlete. Our whole student body is not a 4.0 student. If we have only that section of students, freshmen are like, ‘Where do I fit?’or ‘Where do I see myself at this school,’” Hayes said. “The goal of Link Crew is to make people feel like they belong.”

Similarly, Pham aspires to create an environment that fosters inclusivity, not only in Horizons but all of his classes. He hopes to see similar classroom environments all across campus, where students can be seen for who they are as well as build genuine connections.

“Our motto is ‘When we’re here, we’re family.’ It’s cheesy, but we need to create that environment because we need to learn how to support each other,” Pham said. “Imagine if a student could walk in every single class and say, ‘Wow, that’s my family.’”