A better freshman year for Knox students

Think back to your first day of high school…

For many people, memories of their first day are accompanied by groans, frowns and scowls.   But for the 275 freshmen at Knox Central High School on August 13, the memory might be entirely different, thanks to a new program funded through the Berea College GEAR UP grant (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs).

These freshmen were greeted at the gym door by music and a spirit line of upperclassmen, doling out high fives and welcoming the freshmen to high school. For the next hour and a half, these upperclassmen and their leader, Tonya Allen, GEAR UP academic specialist, led the group in dozens of engaging activities to welcome them to the high school, help them meet their peers and encourage them to get involved. The morning was topped off with lunch with their new friends and the upperclassmen participating in this program.

The program, called Boomerang, is designed to help ease the transition into high school and to make the school a warm and welcoming place for freshmen, who typically are intimidated the first few weeks of school.

Approximately 21 upperclassmen, called LinkCrew leaders, were selected to serve as leaders in the program. They not only help with the opening day festivities, but they also meet three times a month with their designated mentoring groups of freshmen students to make sure the freshmen are feeling welcomed and secure at the high school. Special events also are planned just for freshmen and their LinkCrew leaders.

“I am so proud of our LinkCrew leaders and how they have stepped outside of their comfort zone to lead these freshmen and make them feel welcomed here at the high school,” said Allen. “I believe this program will play a big role in making the high school a more inviting and welcoming place for all students.”

Boomerang is funded through Berea College’s GEAR UP grant from the U.S. Department of Education (2011-2018) totaling $149,408,000 (50 percent federal funds and 50 percent non-federal funds).