The Orientation Must Go On!


Erin Fekjar

Link Crew Commissioners taking group photo while preparing for the virtual orientation a week before the big day

Miguel Gonzalez, Staff Writer

More than 730 freshman students attended Wilson’s virtual freshman orientation and zoomed their way into high school. Instead of the traditional booths and games like dodgeball and spikeball for an in person orientation, these students participated in different activities like Simon says, dance breaks, and show and tell during the virtual orientation. 

With the virtual orientation, the students participated in some activities and learned some information that they would need to know for high school. On the morning of August 21, the crew and freshman met together via zoom to be a part of the first virtual orientation. With this orientation, the freshmen were able to gain important knowledge about Wilson as well as some tips on how to survive high school. 

The faculty were at school during the orientation observing and guiding some of the zoom calls while all the crew members were at home running the orientation and presenting the information to the freshman and engaging them with activities.

 “Considering we had to start from scratch, it went very smoothly with all the commissioners, faculty, leaders, etc,” said Link Crew Commissioner Dylan Bernstein.

Everyone knew how important it was for the freshman to have a positive experience before they began high school, especially virtual high school. It was a difficult task, and everyone put in many hours to make it happen. Having to take a program that is based on in-person events was the challenging part for Activities Director and Link Crew Coordinator Erin Fekjar and the rest of the coordinators. 

Link Crew members working on the plans for virtual orientation via zoom (Erin Fekjar)

“It was a thing of beauty to watch over 200 kids take ownership and to make their slide decks, pictures, and bitmoji’s, put music and translate everything about what Link Crew is and share it with the Class of 2024,” said Fekjar. “That was the most beautiful thing we watch, more than ever in person.” 


Similar to the optimism from the Crew, freshmen also had hope with how the virtual orientation would operate.

“Personally, I thought it was a good idea to have a virtual orientation as it would allow me to know who to ask for help in Link Crew whenever I needed anything,” said Anthony Ruiz, a freshman who attended the virtual orientation. “I knew it was going to be difficult but I also hoped for the best since I knew this situation wasn’t going to change anytime soon.” 

In the beginning the organizers did not know if students could gather during the summer. Initially people had to create multiple plans; an in person plan if students were allowed to gather in public, and a virtual option if people could not be together. The students planning the orientation were determined to live up to their motto, “students helping other students succeed.” 

“I was holding out last moment that we would be able to do everything in person,” said Activities Director Erin Fekjar, the coordinator for Link Crew, “but we also had to be prepared to do virtual since May and maybe implement some in-person activities since we knew that it had to be virtual for sure.” 

Beyond freshman Orientation, Link Crew typically plans the freshman dance, attends football games, mentors students and are role models for all students. However with the outbreak of Covid-19 Link Crew members and advisors had to figure out what to do in this environment.

“It was insanely daunting to replace a program that is meant to be in person, change into something virtual and I remember saying ‘oh my god, what are we going to do?’” said Bernstein.

Once it was determined that school would resume virtually, the organizers knew that they would have to create a virtual Link Crew.

“The coordinators and I were starting to meet in May at the end of each week and we started brainstorming as much as we could as to how we could maneuver this, and in July we were putting in hours everyday,” said Fekjar. “Of course the expectations were high. Part of me thought that if we can’t do this, if Link Crew with 220 leaders that are in it can’t make this a success, we can’t do anything successful.”

The Link Crew organizers created different groups such as Social Media, Logistics, “Woodyverse,” Activities, and Specialness. Each group created an activity or publicized orientation.

“You know, I just said let’s get to work,” said Bernstein. “I wanted to give the freshman the same experience that I got my freshman year, that’s why I wanted to be a commissioner.” With the limited time that was available, commissioners had to start working and preparing to have the general layout of how the virtual orientation was going to operate.

However, there were some drawbacks to having to make the usual experience virtual. 

“We didn’t have the atmosphere that we wanted to obtain with all the drumline, hot mornings, and being on campus,” said Bernstein. “It felt detached since it wasn’t the same experience of being in person as it was all on a screen…you can’t replace the hype, the excitement, and the running.”

Getting in contact with freshmen was another challenge that Link Crew had to overcome. The team of more than 200 students creating the orientation, wanted to make sure every freshman had the opportunity to attend. The only way to contact some of them was by email and phone. Many students did not answer or there were wrong numbers according to Fekjar. 

“I wish there was a way more students could have come and participated since usually 93% come in person,” she explained. 

Once the day of orientation arrived, Link Crew had to deal with another challenge. Internet connections. Something no one could control. 

“My computer was messing up at times, the mic just would not work and being shy being on camera didn’t help much,” said Ruiz.

Despite all of the challenges the orientation went really well considering the virtual situation. 

“Even with minor issues, all 40 zoom calls worked together in clarity to have a successful orientation,” said Bernstein. From many perspectives surrounding the orientation, it seems that it was a success. 

Link Crew did a survey at the end of the orientation. Most people thought it went really well, enjoyed their experience and felt connected to Wilson High School. 

“I thought the orientation was good, Link Crew helped me with everything that I needed to know and they set up many meetings in case I needed to know anything else which I thought was a great idea,” said Ruiz.  

The optimism was present when it came to the orientation. Even with the circumstances, Link Crew was able to get it done. “We had almost impossible missions to do, and we did it. We went to the moon!” said Berstein

The entire experience was a virtual success.