LINK is the ultimate capstone of the school year, especially since it happens right after exams. You may be wondering, “What is LINK?” An end of school celebration, LINK 2017, takes place from May 31 to June 3 in New Braunfels, Texas, just outside of San Antonio. Students who go to LINK finally get to meet their friends and teachers in person; play games like basketball, shuffle-board, ping pong or horseshoes to name a few; attend graduation ceremonies, and participate in other fun activities together like the Natural Bridge Caverns Tour or High Ropes Canopy & Zip Line. There is even a Field Day competition between the Blue and Orange (WHA’s logo colors) teams. Conveniently, all LINK events take place at the same location, T Bar M Resort & Conference Center, so you can eat breakfast, play all day, and stay up late with your friends. But that’s not all – there’s more!

You get to go to Texas! Texas is unlike any other state (okay, that’s true of most states). New Braunfels, settled by a German prince in the 1800’s, maintains its strong German heritage, especially charming in the historic town of Gruene (pronounced “green”). Here the scenic Comal and Guadalupe Rivers offer a variety of refreshing water activities in the heart of the lovely Hill Country. New Braunfels is only a thirty minute drive from San Antonio, where you can see the Alamo! Who wouldn’t want to visit the Alamo after learning so much about it in school? Traveling to Texas can be even more fun if you drive. Depending on where you live, you can explore several states along the way, each offering its own unique experiences. Once you arrive, you get to see your friends and teachers that you have been in class with all year!

For students, nothing at LINK can beat the excitement of getting to see your friends and teachers. Students are rewarded for their hard work during the school year with a trip to Texas and the opportunity to see their classmates. In the past, some classes have self-organized to take a class picture. Other classes even do t-shirts. At LINK you can reminisce about moments in class and strengthen friendships with classmates. WHA freshman, Samuel Lawrence, added that, “I have noticed after going to both of these gatherings that people’s personalities can be entirely different (in a good way) in person than they are in the classroom.  Some of the quieter people have vibrant personalities, which you would not have noticed just in the classroom.  I would very much recommend that you come to LINK, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.”

Besides spending quality time with friends, students value the opportunity to meet face to face with their teachers. Abigail Hicks, junior at Wilson Hill Academy, described her experience: “I never thought I would be able to go to LINK. It was too far away and too expensive.  But last year one of my friends invited me to go with her family.” Hicks explained that the night before LINK started in New Braunfels, a group of five Wilson Hill families went out to dinner. Little did they know that right behind them sat five times five Wilson Hill teachers enjoying a pre-LINK dinner meeting. Several of the students had never seen Mr. Etter in person before but thought they recognized the back of his head, “We kept turning around in our seats to see if we might catch sight of a glorious orange and grey beard,” Hicks recalled. Suddenly, as they began eating, they heard multiple chairs scraping the floor at once. Stampeding towards their table and feigning astonishment, teachers cheered, “It’s our students! Our students!” The cameras came out with loads of laughter from all. Surely, others in the restaurant were startled, “But for us, it was the beginning of a grand reunion,” shared Hicks. Thanks to memorable events like this one, the entire Hicks family will embrace the seventeen hour drive to experience the joy of LINK 2017.

Not only do you get to see your friends at LINK, you can make new ones, too.  Abigail Lawrence, sophomore at WHA, shared her gratitude for the new friends she made at LINK 2016:  “July 28, 2016, I found myself stuck in Chicago O’Hare Airport as I was on my way home from visiting a dear friend. Due to bad weather, my flight kept being delayed; then, just before takeoff, the pilot timed out. Thanks, Delta! For me, there would be no more chances to get out of Chicago that night.” Yet, the evening that began with tears and frustration turned into a very special and memorable time. “My sweet friend, Annika Reynolds, and I had been in Latin together the previous school year, but had never really connected until LINK 2016,” explained Lawrence, “I’ll be forever thankful for the Reynolds family, who saved me from my plight. An unnerving night soon became one filled with laughter, shows, delightful company, conversation and food, which would not have happened if we hadn’t attended LINK 2016 together. So basically, going to LINK saved me from spending a night alone in Chicago!”

The parents reading this may be thinking, “This sounds great for the kids, but why should I go?” First, parents get the chance to meet and talk with their children’s teachers. In fact, this year WHA has planned a designated question and answer time expressly for parents at LINK.  Parents are also surrounded with other homeschool moms and dads, who have been walking the same path of classical Christian education. While the kids are enjoying themselves, parents discover the community that has always been there behind the students’ computers. Parents come expecting to watch their children hang out and end up making life-long friends.

LINK offers an invaluable opportunity to meet and hang out with friends and teachers you have been in class with all year.  Parents also get to connect with other like minded parents and make new friends. Please come to LINK this year. We know you will be glad you did, and so will we! Hope to see you there!

Submitted by Maggie Burch and Abigail Hicks, WHA Students