As I approach my final months in high school, I have advice for next year’s incoming freshman. Be a part of your community – in and out of school. Ask more questions, challenge yourself and keep in touch with your counselors. These are small things you can do to help make it to graduation. I know it’s a big transition, but it’s an important one. For the adults charged with facilitating our success, I have some advice for you, too.
As our representatives in Olympia decide how to balance the state’s budget, I encourage you to focus our resources on support during the freshman year. There is policy being considered that encourages schools to follow the lead of districts like Spokane and align support systems to keep freshman “on-track”. I know that when I was in 9th grade, it would have helped me greatly if we were scheduled to see our counselors at least twice in the school year, than visiting if I remember to. The proposal backed by the High School Success Coalition to bring “Ninth Grade On-Track” strategies to Washington schools helps with those challenges.
People say they worry about students, but when the chance to help is at hand, they don’t necessarily take action. These legislative proposals make that difference. When students struggle - financially, educationally, or mentally - access to a counselor for that issue would be immensely helpful, but there isn’t enough access to counseling support. Counselors have to balance everything from class schedules to students’ emotional states and you can’t expect them to give their full attention to one person if they have a fourth of the student population on their mind. That is so unfair. We should support legislation that would help increase the supply of counselors.
And finally, adults, what you need to remember about getting through high school is that it’s crazy. There is a huge mix of grades, tests, homework, sports, and heartbreak. The high school journey is confusing, so please be patient with your children, and remain with them as a constant supportive force that they can fall back on. Pass legislation to support getting Freshmen On-Track, eliminate barriers to counselors, and support students so that every one of us gets a diploma after all of our hard work.