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DISCUSSION

HomeRoom: Making the Year Count for Students, Grads and Even Yourself

In This Issue...

  • Reflections from Gateway High School's College Counseling Team
  • INSPIRATION: A Virtual Send-Off for the Class of 2020
  • VIDEO: How to Teach Remotely Using Padlet
  • LINK: Helping Students Discover Their Purpose
  • LINK: How Do You Close the School Year During Distance Learning?
  • LINK: Give Yourself a Break
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“They're Not Alone"

Reflections from Jenna Marx, College Counselor,
and Joel Rangel, Director of College Counseling @ Gateway High School

As college counselors, we’re used to working with students while they play the waiting game: waiting for college admission decisions, for scholarships, for the results of the high stakes exams that will influence where their next steps after high school will take them. It’s part of the normal rhythm of the school year. 

That rhythm, obviously, has been disrupted, and we’re now playing a whole different waiting game – one that is somehow even more stressful and high stakes for the young people who will be graduating in just a few short weeks. Many of our seniors already know that their next year is going to look very different from what they may have planned for or hoped, others are still in limbo, and all need help processing big feelings while using this time to set themselves up for success as best they can.

In the face of so much anxiety, we try to help students focus on what they can do: update their FAFSA if their family’s financial situation has changed, appeal financial aid or admission decisions made before the pandemic hit, investigate what kind of flexibility the colleges they hope to attend are prepared to offer for 2020 graduates. Even when things are uncertain – even when things kind of objectively suck – their own tenacity and agency will continue to open doors for them.

And they’re not alone. At Gateway, we’re being more intentional than ever about celebrating our students and especially about showing our seniors some love. We’re having to be more creative – Padlets instead of assemblies, videos instead of pizza parties – but the way that our faculty and especially our freshman, sophomores and juniors have stepped up for our seniors is really incredible. Our seniors are missing out on some very real experiences, but being able to see how much the entire school community cares from the outpouring of messages and photos is powerful. Some of these ad-hoc virtual solutions may even become new school traditions when students return to school next year!

The same can be said of our work. In April, we held our first webinar for families about college admission and how testing, transcripts and transitions to college could be affected by the pandemic. We often hold informative events for families at school, but we were excited by the large turnout for this virtual event, and it’s exciting to think about how we can use technology alongside in-person events to reach even more families in future years.

This year has been far from perfect, but in these past few months we have seen students and staff alike display flexibility, resilience, and a real desire to find the positive in the midst of hardship. With those experiences under their belts, our seniors will be ready for their next steps, wherever they lead.  

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