Frosh welcomed to HCHS

Now a decade after the opening of Harlan County High School, it’s easy to forget there was a time when some doubted whether students from three rival high schools could co-exist in the same building without problems. HCHS senior K.K. Johnson answered that question as she talked with freshmen during the annual HCHS Freshman Orientation on Tuesday evening at the school.

“Your best friends by the time you graduate will probably be people you don’t even know now,” said Johnson, a Link Crew leader at HCHC. “You won’t be friends with the same people from middle school.”

With 277 freshmen enrolled at HCHS, the program gives the new students and their parents an opportunity to tour the school and meet teachers and administrators. The school’s Link Crew, comprised of seniors and sponsored by GEAR UP, led the program and welcomed the freshmen in the school’s auditorium. The freshmen were greeted with music and high fives from the seniors, then listened as Link Crew advisor Holly Alred talked to them about the school and introduced assistant principals Kathy Napier and Michael Hensley.

HCHS Principal Edna Burkhart met with parents of the freshmen in the school’s cafeteria and talked to them about what their children can expect when they arrive for the first day of school on Wednesday. Burkhart also introduced the freshman teachers and discussed school policies.

After the program, the freshmen were divided into groups and paired with their Link Crew leaders, who collected phone numbers and e-mail addresses to stay in contact through the year and help ease the transition.

“I was terrified when I was a freshman, and I know this helps,” said Link Crew member Marissa Powell, who posed for a selfie with her group of freshmen and Link Crew partner Shaun Warren. Being in the Link Crew has helped me as well by bringing me out of my shell a little.”

This year’s Link Crew includes Rhileigh Alred, Kathryn Bailey, Madison Blanton, Dakota Brock, Christopher Brown, Mahalah Bundy, McKenzie Bundy, Josh Burkhart, Patrick Bynum, Amanda Caudill, Emily Collett, Alyssa Cornett, Nikki Creech, Santos Flores, Amber Goodin, Katelyn Hensley, Whitney Hensley, John Jeffers, Katelyn Johnson, Jena Kelly, Ally Kohnle, Josh Lee, Karli Maggard, Phebe McHargue, Elaina Knight, Reanna Middleton, Savannah Osborne, Marissa Powell, Matthew Simpson, Michael Simpson, Abby Stephens, Breann Turner, Kohner Walters, Shaun Warren and Makayla Whitaker.


GEAR UP, based at Berea College, follows a cohort of students from sixth grade to their freshman year in college. It emphasizes college readiness through academic success and the building of a college-going culture. Services include:

• in-school tutoring

• summer academies

• career exploration

• test preparation

• college visits

• career site visits

• mentoring

• educator professional development

• family engagement activities.