Opinion: Student Concerns

*Disclaimer: All names and identities will remain anonymous. *Data was checked for voting from different accounts, non-Tyrone voters, and voting in both polls. Students do not know about the policies and processes of the Guidance Office; this should be kept in mind while reading.

I was curious to know what people who followed me on social media and went to Tyrone Area School District thought of the guidance services in the school district. I sent out a poll on my Instagram and Facebook and asked kids to rate their experience, current or past as negative or positive.

After completion and analysis*, it was found that out of 100 people, 60 of Tyrone Area Middle/High School students and alumni viewed the TASD guidance program negatively.

In order to get an understanding of this result, I randomly selected eight people (four from each side) and asked them these questions:

What is one thing (or several) that you appreciate about our guidance office/counselors/activities, etc?

What is one thing you do not like, or believe needs to be changed? (If experiences are included please refrain from using hearsay).

What suggestions do you have (if any) for our staff?

Results were rather homogenous. For the first question, students agreed that the guidance staff tried to make students feel appreciated and were there to help with college decisions.

For the second response, all but one interviewed believed that the space doesn’t feel open enough for students. Though it is a judgement-free zone, many still feel it is not as safe as it could be.

Several students wrote about issues with not being able to see a faculty member in a moment of need and having to go home to where the problem was instead.

Others mentioned how they’ve only experienced this with simple issue such as a schedule change but noted that this could cause issues with students having a crisis.

Many students also admitted that their negative experiences stemmed from the middle school and their guidance program and not the high school.

Another popular point from both sides was Aevidum, a student group created to give kids another outlet to reach out to and talk to. It has been compared to a popularity contest with several feeling that it creates an uncomfortable environment and kids don’t reach out to any of the kids. Another common agreement that the club in itself did not do enough activities to reach out to students.

All students agreed they want to see the guidance space thrive. Every student came up with their own solution, all similar in thought, in order to support and possibly help a future student find help.

The one suggestion all students came up with was for the staff to be more communicative with the students. Whether through posters, emails, announcements, or social media students wanted to see more involvement in the school. Many agreed that in the current situation, it is difficult to get information to the public and that we are still tackling with ways to adapt.

One alum cited that both the elementary and middle school have two guidance counselors, and in the middle school there is both a female and a male option for students. Many of these students mentioned how, at no fault of guidance, other students might prefer to talk to someone of the same sex, or different sex with the inclusion of a male counselor.

Several students along with the same alum, said that Aevidum should be more inclusive and representative of the student body. And that there should be more children with experience in mental health issues (with their consent).

Appreciation and gratitude for all staff in the guidance and upper levels were expressed by many for everything they had done to help them individually.

At the end of the day, we cannot force students to go to counseling, and we cannot make them reach out to kids in Aevidum, but together we can improve the opinion and mindset that surrounds the guidance office together as a community and make others feel safe in it.