Each new school year usually brings new changes and improvements. Although the HBA handbook rules stayed the same this year, the high school counseling department saw some drastic changes.
Students are now grouped and assigned to counselors according their last names rather than by their grade levels. Junior class counselor Andy Taylor left during the summer, leaving a total of four counselors in the office. In addition to these changes, high school principal Marsha Hirae moved into the counseling office so she could advise and oversee the four counselors.
According to the counseling department, the restructuring has many benefits. Instead of being assigned new counselors each year, students, especially freshmen, will be able to develop long term relationships with the same counselors throughout high school.[one_third]
“I believe changes were needed for some time now and once the decision was made to take this new path, it was for the long haul.”
—High School Principal Marsha Hirae[/one_third] Counselor Jennifer Marshall says the new system “provides opportunities for kids and families to get to know a counselor over several years.” She adds that this also benefits parents with multiple children in HBA because each family will only have to work with one counselor.
Counselor Danford Chang also points to this advantage, saying, “Under the previous structure, a parent who had children in the tenth and twelfth grades had to communicate with two different counselors. Under this structure, a parent will only need to communicate with one counselor regarding both of their children.”
Some students have expressed doubt over the benefits of the change, citing the varying levels and types of experience among the counselors. Seniors are especially concerned, with looming college applications starting this fall. Senior Caitlyn Nakatsukasa says, “I feel like some people get this much information and the other group gets hardly anything.”
Others point out that it may become confusing for teachers to have to work with more counselors. Chang says that with the new arrangement, the counselors may not have a good sense on the “pulse on [a] grade as whole.” He adds, “It’s a bit harder to figure out who to support during Spirit Week. But given that I’m the senior grade level counselor…go Class of 2015!”
Although most people are familiar with counselor Susan Goya as the college counselor, Marshall and Chang also have experience in college counseling. As for counselor Tara Gruspe, Hirae says, “College counseling is a new area for Mrs. Gruspe; however, she has the help and support of her colleagues. I know her work ethic and character, and I am confident that she will approach this college advisement with the same kind of attention and diligence she has exhibited this past year as a new counselor.”
Hirae says that in the long run, having four experienced college counselors will be a big advantage. For one, since half of each counselor’s load of students are taking core courses and single electives, the counselors will have more time to focus on upper grade students who need help to plan out their course selections. She is confident that the counselors will work together to help out all the students, especially seniors, and keep their best interests in mind.
Hirae also wants to assure students that the change “is not an experiment.” She says, “I believe changes were needed for some time now and once the decision was made to take this new path, it was for the long haul. For me, there is no turning back—not for at least four years—until we [assess] the effectiveness of the reorganization…for the Class of 2018.”
Senior Jeffrey Liang feels positive about the changes, saying, “It means that every kid can [more] have one-on-one help instead of just one person doing all the seniors.”