VIEWPOINT October 2010 www.theweswordonline.com
Seniors concerned with guidance counselor switch Katie Costello Staff Writer
Senior year is undoubtedly stressful. It is the time when students are applying to colleges, submitting last minute letters of recommendation, and building up their résumés. A guidance counselor should be the one to alleviate some of that stress, not only by mailing paperwork to colleges on time but by serving as a shoulder to lean on during these hectic times. However, this shouldn’t be a problem, since seniors have built good relationships with their counselors for the last three years, right? Wrong. This year, many senior students had their guidance counselors switched on them, myself included. Guidance Counselor Mrs. Levin said the first reason for the switch was because of the introduction of a new freshman program. “This program means there are two counselors assigned to all incoming freshmen, because we thought it might facilitate their transition into Westhill,” Mrs. Levin said. Guidance counselors Ms. James and Ms. Tooher had their whole caseload redistributed, and they will be the only two responsible for the whole freshman class. This means that they will each be assigned to approximately 300 students. Ms. James believes that two
guidance counselors for 300 students is just too many. “I like the concept, but there are too many children,” she said. Mrs. Levin said, “Essentially, every guidance counselor, besides the Freshman Guidance Department, received more students— underclassmen and seniors.” Senior Maddie Elkins, who had Ms. Tooher but was switched to Mr. Andrews, said, “Every senior who was switched has been inconvenienced at a critical and highly stressful time.” Then there is the problematic aspect of guidance counselor recommendations, which most universities require. Who is responsible for writing the letter? A senior’s former counselor of three years, or the newly assigned counselor? “I, along with many of my classmates, have an entirely new and unfamiliar counselor who, despite his or her gracious efforts, will never know us as well as our old counselor did. If that wasn’t bad enough, no one ever told the seniors they had been switched. We had to hear it through word of mouth and wonder if it was a rumor or the truth,” Elkins said. When speaking to students who share this situation, some received a phone call, others a letter, and some found out by coming to their old counselor to make schedule changes and then finding
Elissa Miolene / Photo Manager
SENIORS IN DISTRESS Due to changes within the guidance department, many seniors have new counselors to help them handle the stressful college application season. out about the switch. Guidance Counselor Mr. Andrews was among the couselors receiving additional students this year. Twenty of his new students are seniors. “It is tough with seniors and the whole college process. I find myself pressed for time, especially with most of my
students applying early with upcoming deadlines,” Mr. Andrews said. Senior Erin Downey, who was switched from Ms. Tooher to Mr. Andrews, said that she “had no control over who her new counselor would be.” This is highly concerning, because guidance counselors play a large
part in the college application process in terms of meeting deadlines and making suggestions. Seniors who have found themselves with a new guidance counselor can only try make the best of the situation by getting their papers in early and stopping in to get to know their new counselors.
Student drivers troubled by parking lot policy Aaron Gregory Staff Writer
Emily Freedman / Photographer
CAUGHT IN THE ACT Many junior and senior drivers are surprised by the new policy that prohibits them from going to their cars while school is in session.
Student drivers are buzzing about Westhill’s new disciplinary rule that a simple walk to one’s car for a forgotten textbook can land one in In-School Suspension (ISS) for up to three days. Many students are outraged by this new policy. “I think this new policy is absurd and obnoxious,” senior Ralph Rodriguez said. Not many students have received ISS so far, and if you get a pass from the main office, you will be able to go to your car for a forgotten item. But as the year goes on, if students aren’t informed of this rule, the number of students sent to ISS will increase. “We need a place such as ISS to enforce the rules and regula-
tions. It only takes one minute to get a pass from the main office. Those who don’t take that minute, we question their motives,” Dean of Students Ms. Obas said. “It would be very time consuming going to the office for a pass. I think the security guard in the front should be the one who allows students to go to their cars. It’s already hard to get from building to building with hall traffic; going to the office would take too much time,” senior Dylan Hanulik said. In high school, time is everything, and going to the office to get a pass to your car is time-consuming. This rule was put into effect because Westhill is a “closed campus” and from a legal standpoint, students are prohibited from leaving school grounds while school is in session.
However, senior Giselle Jett argued, “The parking lot is still considered school grounds, so we shouldn’t need a pass to go there.” In the past when students went to their cars, some left school to get food or skip class. It’s not fair that our student drivers have to suffer the consequences of what students in the past have done. Students should be able to freely go to their cars to retrieve books and projects without the fear of getting ISS. However, since the rule doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, students should be made aware of this new rule. As senior Jeff Jecrois said, “Until this was brought to my attention, I didn’t know where I could get a pass to go to my car. Usually if I forgot something, I would just ask a security guard.”