Mark your calendars now for Link’s students and staff performance of The Lion King Jr. to take place on Friday, February 28 at 7 pm and Saturday, February 29 at 3 pm. Our talented Linkers are rehearsing daily for a great performance and our production crew is busily building the set and making costumes. It;s going to be amazing! Tickets will go on sale shortly: $7 for adults and $5 for children 17 and under. Click here to see a short clip of rehearsal!
Our 8th graders saw the movie Just Mercy as part of Black History Month activities. The movie is based on the memoir of Bryan Stevenson, an African American Harvard trained attorney who works to reverse wrongful convictions for minorities and the poor, in particularly death sentences, in Alabama and founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit to continue his work. The movie’s focus is on one of Mr. Stevenson’s cases. After the poignant movie, students visited Rutgers Law School and met the Dean of the Law School in the Mock Courtroom and had small group discussions about the movie. The movie had a great impact on our students as evidenced by the discussion they had at the law school and back at Link.
Congratulations to the 18 Link scholars inducted into the newly formed Link Chapter of the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS)! The students were selected based on their academic standing (minimum of a 3.7 GPA) as well as scholarship, service, leadership, character, and citizenship by a faculty council led by Ms. Tanella and Mrs. Martinez. The induction took place at Link in a lovely ceremony, with the inductees’ parents and Link staff present.
The idea of starting a chapter of the NJHS to recognize high achieving students with good core values came from a former Link teacher, Mr. Josh Allen, a few years ago. After his untimely passing, Ms. Kathleen Hester, principal, carried forth the idea, and this year Ms. Tanella and Mrs. Martinez, the honor society co-advisors and co-chairs of the selection council, put Mr. Allen’s wish into action. Student members will have opportunities for leadership training and perform community service throughout the school year.
The NJHS, established in 1929, has over one million student members in all 50 states, US territories, and around the world. Chapter membership recognizes students for both their accomplishments but also “challenges them to develop further through active involvement in school activities and community service.” (www.njhs.us)
Link is proud to serve as a host chapter of an organization with tenets closely aligned with the mission of the school…and looks forward to our scholars’ growth and development through their membership in the NJHS.
Link recently caught up with Dr. Keisha Mack ’84 who truly lives a life following Link’s Core Value of “caring for others” by giving back to her community. Upon graduating from Link, Keisha attended Mt. St. Dominic Academy and continued on to Howard University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, followed by a Masters of Education in Counseling Psychology. After her time at Howard, Keisha continued her education at The George Washington University, earning a Doctorate of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology. Keisha, a licensed clinical psychologist, has used her education to give back to others.
As a founding partner of The MECCA Group, LLC, a private psychological and rehabilitative services consulting firm in Washington D.C., Keisha and her partner have focused on providing care to under served youth and families who live in D.C., Maryland, and Northern Virginia. Inspiration for the company came during Keisha’s time as a post-doctoral clinician in Washington, D.C., where she and her colleagues acknowledged the need to better serve minorities and under served youth within the area. Recognizing this, they took matters into their own hands and formed the company which works with charter schools, the majority of which serve youth of color, to provide care to students with special needs whose mental health needs might be otherwise overlooked or not adequately met. They use a holistic approach to counseling and behavior support, which emphasizes the importance of accounting for one’s individual culture and cultural identity. Former Link teacher Ms. Kathy Rehack, a language arts instructor, helped Keisha see the importance of this early on. Keisha said Ms. Rehack was one of her favorite teachers at Link in part because of how sensitive and aware she was of the importance of respecting the cultural backgrounds of her students. In particular, Keisha fondly recalls when Ms. Rehack, a white teacher, taught the Black National Anthem (Lift Every Voice and Sing) in sign language to her class.
Along with giving back to the community in her professional life, Keisha also serves others in her personal time. As an active member of the charity Twelve Days of Christmas, Incorporated , where she currently serves as Parliamentarian on the National Board, Keisha helps provide Christmas presents and school supplies for underprivileged children in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. In addition to this, Keisha also sits on the Board of Directors for the Williams Franklin Foundation which gives students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) academic scholarships as well as mentoring and internship opportunities. Finally, she is also a very active member of the Howard University Alumni Club of Greater Washington DC, where she has served as vice president, supporting students attending Howard University through programming and scholarships.
When asked what part Link played in all of her success Keisha responded, “Link instilled the idea that I could do whatever I wanted, and that college and beyond was not a choice; it was a given.” Furthermore, Keisha said Link not only provided her with an environment which encouraged her to become her best self but also gave her the tools and support to do so. Through Link, Keisha participated in programs, such as the Prudential After School Enrichment Program, where she was exposed to different cultures and opportunities that made her want to grow as a person by embracing all the world had to offer. In addition to all this, Keisha emphasized. “Link was more than a school; it was a community – a “safe haven” in a tough area where you always felt supported.” It is for this reason that when Keisha meets up with her two lifelong friends, Monique Outerbridge and Crystal Fedd Tolliver, whom she met on her first day at Link, they still recite the Link cheer, “Linker! So proud to be a Linker! So proud to be a L-I-N-K-E-R!”
Link was pleased that Keyshawn Phelps’11, who lives in Florida and was in the area this week, visited his middle-school alma mater on Friday, to share his thoughts with Linkers. He spoke to students of the Lower House (grades 5 and 6) in Morning Circle on the importance of responsibility and responsibility, as well as making good life decisions and giving back to the community. Later, he joined Mr. LaGuerre’s community to speak with Grade 8 students. (He was a student in Mr. LaGuerre’s science class when at Link .) Keyshawn returned to NJ to finish his #JustWantToInspire coat drive, in partnership with Link, for those who have need. Over 100 coats were collected and distributed. To learn more about Keyshawn, click here.
Students are excited about ProjectLit, a student book club that is part of a grassroots literacy movement designed to “increase access to high quality culturally relevant books and promote a love of reading” through book discussions and related activities, including service projects. Each month students will read a book and then gather after school for an hour to discuss it.
During December, over thirty Link book club members read Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds. In this book, In this multiple award winning book, the author tells ten stories of the struggles and strengths of ten students who know each other only in passing, emphasizing the importance of being aware of others, empathy, and connections. During the book club meeting on December 17th students shared their impressions of the book. The overwhelming response was that students related to the characters and situations in the book. One student exclaimed, “This is me!” After the discussion, they had fun engaging in an exercise based on the book’s themes of empathy and connections.
Students are already looking forward to the book for the coming month, Time Bomb, by Joelle Charbonneau. Thanks to our ELA teachers, Ms. Seegers, Mrs. Lelinho, and Ms. Alston for starting the book club and guiding our scholars toward a greater love of reading!