On Tuesday morning, 550-some freshmen will walk into Farmington High School for the first time as students. They’ll face new schedules, classes filled with unfamiliar faces and the very real possibility they might get lost in this big new building.

Fortunately, they’ll have guides.

As they have for the past decade or so, Farmington High School’s Link Crew will welcome freshmen on their first day of high school. The group of juniors and seniors will serve as a sort of tour guide to the new school. New students will walk through a gauntlet of cheering upperclassmen Tuesday morning, then go through a morning of games and getting-to-know you activities. The Link Crew leaders will also check in during the year to invite their freshmen to events and make sure they’re keeping up on their class work.

At the ends of trimesters there are “cocoa and cram” events where Link Crew leaders volunteer their services as tutors for students who are getting ready for their first high school finals.

“It can help create positive community, especially in a larger school,” said FHS teacher Matthew Grove, one of the Link Crew advisors. “Our freshman classes are growing and growing.”

That kind of connection is important, Grove said, at an age when statistics suggest students are most at risk of falling behind academically.

Teachers recommend students to serve as leaders in the Link Crew program, and members are selected based on applications and essays. They need to have energy and enthusiasm, and they need to be able to make connections with the incoming students.

“We’re not strictly looking for your straight-A students,” FHS teacher Jen Snobeck said. “We’re looking for students that will help represent the freshman class.”

Seniors Alex Hart and Rebecca Resch are both in their second year as Link Crew leaders. Both say they got involved, at least in part, because of the impact the program had on them when they were freshmen.

Hart came to FHS from a private school in Lakeville, so the high school was a completely new experience for him. Resch had attended both Boeckman and Dodge middle schools, but she still found herself surrounded by unfamiliar faces on her first day at FHS.

“It was kind of scary at first, but then I realized the layout of the building is not that hard to understand,” Resch said. “They (Link Crew leaders) made you feel welcome.”

“It was a lot of fun the first day of school being able to have fun and not just, ‘Here’s a bunch of syllabuses,’” Hart said.

Both Resch and Hart said it was nice that first year to have at least a couple of familiar faces in the hallways - someone they could say hi to in passing or turn to for help. They try to provide the same presence for their Link Crew students.

Hart and Resch said the best advice they got from their Link Crew leaders was to get involved. They took that to heart. Resch is involved in swimming, choir, speech and theater. Hart is in cross country, track and basketball as well as National Honor Society and Tiger Leadership Club. Last year, he convinced five of his Link Crew freshmen to come out for track.

Now, they’re ready to welcome another new class.