By Christopher Roberson
Guidance Director Kathryn Moody and her colleagues recently went before the School Committee to discuss the ways in which they assist students with navigating through four years at Lynnfield High School.
Moody said her department held a series of small group meetings with freshmen during the first weeks of school. She said there is now a second series of meetings to check back in with those students and review their first quarter of high school. However, those meetings do not last very long.
“Ninth graders don’t really like to talk to us, but that’s OK, relationships take time,” Moody said during the committee’s Dec. 11 meeting.
Speaking about sophomore year, Guidance Counselor Scott MacKenzie said those students will take the PSAT for the first time and be introduced to the college and career readiness software called Naviance. However, he said being a high school student should still be the primary focus of any sophomore.
“We don’t do anything college-specific prior to 11th grade,” he said.
As students become upperclassmen, Moody said they are reintroduced to Naviance as well as to The College Board.
In addition to the Junior Planning Night in February, Moody said her guidance counselors begin helping students develop a plan for life after high school. She also said the process of writing a college admissions essay has “become a big topic of discussion.”
Guidance Counselor Samantha Pindara said that by senior year, students are eager to solidify their post-graduation plans.
“From the very first day of school we’re meeting with seniors,” she said. “Most of them don’t even need an invitation to come in, they’re banging on the door before we can open it.”
Pindara said seniors are also taught how to use the resume tool in Naviance.
“It allows them to see what they’ve done,” she said.
She also spoke about the value of visiting colleges during the school year.
“You can go during the summer, but no one’s there,” said Pindara.
Therefore, she said seniors are given two excused absences to visit colleges.
Adjustment Counselor Kristen Dee said she is available to all students.
“If you’re having a tough time, I’m someone you can check-in with,” she said, adding that she meets students in variety of ways including those who come into her office crying.
Dee also stressed the importance of choosing the right school.
“You can put the bumper sticker on the car, but if the student does not stay that might not be a good fit,” she said.
MacKenzie also told the committee about one of his former students who is now a freshman at the “wildly cool” College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. He said that student recently returned to the high school to tell him how happy she is despite being four hours from home.
“That student was a success,” he said.
Chapter 70 Resolution
In other news, Member Dorothy Presser said the State Legislature continues to be pressured by a resolution that supports full education funding through Chapter 70 of the Massachusetts General Laws.
Presser said that in 2015, the Massachusetts Foundation Budget Review Commission made a series of recommendations to the legislature regarding an overhaul of the Chapter 70 formula. However, she said no action has been taken by Beacon Hill lawmakers.
“We should not have the reliance on the property tax that we have,” said Presser. “Chapter 70 was one of the most complex things the state did.”