LINK Crew Remains a Well-Oiled Machine

LINK coordinators and AAHS teachers Joann Cassano and Maille ONeil pose before Halloween in 2020. Photo Credit: aahslink.

LINK coordinators and AAHS teachers Joann Cassano and Maille O’Neil pose before Halloween in 2020. Photo Credit: aahslink.

It’s no secret that COVID-19 has put virtually every aspect of a student’s life on hold. LINK Crew during the 2020-21 school year is certainly no exception.

Originally formed to be a welcome party for incoming freshmen and transfer students, LINK has transitioned into a year-long commitment for Air Academy juniors and seniors. The brief interruption of COVID-19 has kept both coordinators, leaders, and new students on their toes, but many believe LINK will be stronger than ever following the pandemic.

Although the first day of school welcome for freshmen and transfer students was canceled during the height of the pandemic, the remaining events on the LINK calendar have remained with a few small alterations.

“We’ve just had to think more creatively—how can we connect to students using social media and other virtual means since we can’t meet in person?” stated LINK coordinator Joann Cassano.

LINK has utilized their committees this school year to improve the student experience safely during COVID-19, with small groups meeting in open places to make goody bags for new students and drop them off at individual houses.

“LINK was great this year, it was harder to do what we do, but still made it work,” commented junior leader Fiona Glueckert.

The central detriment to LINK Crew during the 2020-21 school year has been the lack of connection between leaders and new students alike.

“Not only did we lose the small groups/assembly from the first day of school where we personally meet every new Kadet, but this year has been tough in a lot of other ways, and making connections has been really tough,” continued Cassano.

As mentioned earlier by Cassano, LINK has turned to more digital and unconventional methods of student connection. The rise of Air Academy LINK’s Instagram page has provided Air Academy students with a connection to the LINK community, while potentially recruiting future leaders. LINK has also transitioned to more COVID-friendly activities for community building.

“In past years we’ve usually done events such as cookie decorating in the courtyard or cocoa and coloring or even distributing finals’ survival kits for the end of the first semester. A lot of these traditions have been transformed into online contests (e.g. the December cookie decorating contest),” added Cassano.

Students are tentatively set to return to full in-person learning on March 15. and although classes will not be entirely normal just yet, it’s not too outlandish to predict that the sense of community lost to the pandemic will begin its journey back into the school setting. With the COVID-19 pandemic winding down due to increased vaccinations, it seems likely Air Academy will return as close to normal as possible in August, bringing with it the new and improved LINK program.