PHS Awarded Link Crew Student Resiliency Program Grant

linkcrewPerry High School recently received a $2,500 grant from Stark County Mental Health and Addiction Recovery (MHAR) to implement a school resiliency program called Link Crew, which aims to make the transition into high school easier for freshmen by providing the structure for them to receive support and guidance from peers. In support of the program, the non-profit corporation Hayden’s Story: The Hayden Porter Foundation made an additional $3,500 donation to support Link Crew. Hayden’s Story is a foundation that was formed by the family of Hayden Porter, a Perry student who took his own life in January of last year. The mission of Hayden’s Story is to develop solutions and offer support for the prevention of suicide, and the foundation is thereby working closely with Perry High School to implement Link Crew. They hope to eventually bring the same program to other area high schools and to develop scholarship funds for outstanding mentors and counseling resources.

Link Crew is a program housed within the internationally recognized The Boomerang Project, which was established in 2011 with the goal of teaching service learning and character development for high school transition. Reaching more than 4,500 schools, The Boomerang Project is equally dedicated to educators and students and is built on the premise that students can help students succeed.

“We are extremely grateful to Stark MHAR and Hayden’s Story for their generous financial support to bring the Link Crew program to Perry High School,” said PHS Principal Dave Riley. “Providing a leadership and mentoring program to support our students as they transition from the middle school to the high school setting is a tremendous step that will further our efforts to meet the needs of our student body. Hayden’s Story’s commitment and recognition of this type of program will make a positive impact for the upcoming year and as it becomes an integral part of our school community for years to come.”

Riley said they will roll out The Boomerang Project during the next school year. Seventy-five sophomores and juniors will be selected as mentors to incoming freshman. During the first day of school for freshman, the mentors will engage the students in a number of activities. As the year progresses, the mentors will continue to work with the freshmen on establishing goals, building positive relationships, furthering academic achievement and building a successful school culture as a Perry Panther.

A few PHS staff members recently went through a three-day training program, so they can facilitate peer-to-peer mentorship using leadership and group-development methodologies.

According to Superintendent Scott Beatty, the full costs of launching Link Crew are nearly $10,000. Along with the financial support from Stark MHAR, Hayden’s Story and $1,000 additional donations that were earmarked for student support programs, Perry High School needs a few more thousand dollars to cover the costs.

“Thank you to both Hayden’s Story and Stark MHAR for their generous contributions,” said Riley. “Stark MHAR continually recognizes the importance of supporting school districts in their continued efforts to address the social/emotional needs of students. Awarding funding to allow Perry High School to implement a mentoring program that will ultimately benefit all of our students aligns perfectly with their organization’s goals.”

The Porter family and Perry Local Schools are collaborating to host a fundraiser in early March to continue to raise funds for the project.

“We truly appreciate the support of Hayden Porter’s family and their foundation throughout the process of implementing Link Crew and applying for the grant from Stark MHAR,” said Beatty. “Without organizations like Hayden’s Story and Stark MHAR, it would be much more challenging to integrate such wonderful opportunities like Link Crew and The Boomerang Project at our high school. We are grateful to bring this terrific program to our high school students and know it will make a positive difference in our community over the long-term.