Gold Star counseling award highlights necessary recognition


Photo by Ethan O'Sullivan.

Guidance counselor Natalie Ridings meets with freshmen Malakai McGee to discuss the future of his high school career on Oct. 24. She will conduct freshman meetings for the next month.

*Disclaimer: The FHS counselors helped N the Red to connect to mental health resources when researching its article on sexual assault in its section print issue of the Fall 2018 Semester. However, this did not factor into the writer’s opinion.

Counselors across our district go above and beyond their jobs to navigate the dense mountain ranges of high school and college. From freshman to senior year, they play a variety of roles for their students: guide, advisor, recommender and friend.

Recently, the Indiana Department of Education released the recipients of the 2018 Gold Star Counseling Award. Every single school in the district was a recipient, including FHS for the first time. According to the Indiana School Counselor Association, Gold Star schools demonstrate a “comprehensive and accountable school guidance and counseling program,” which is hallmarked by advocacy, strong management of time and resources, clear goals and constant improvement.

In the last two years, counselors have had a definitive vision of improving student well-being, showing how much they advocate for the people in their school. They started the Stigma Free Club to discuss mental health issues in an open environment. They listened to suggestions made at those meetings and initiated efforts to reach out to students in need and connect them to mental health care resources, including an in-school counselor. That club is now the Bring Change to Mind Club and has a national sponsor.

They efficiently use their time as well as the time of others. In just two short meetings earlier this year, I had all my goals set for the rest of the semester for college applications, classes and my SATs. Throughout my college application process, I sent countless emails, showed up for an unscheduled meeting about once a day and asked the same questions over and over again just to reassure myself. No matter what, my counselor responded to me with patience and investment in my future.

FHS is by no means a perfect school, but its guidance and counseling office is integral to making it one of the most successful schools in the state. This new award gives it the recognition that it has deserved for a long time.