The Husky Staff is Here to Help

Samantha Esparza

As we come closer to the end of our first school semester, emotions are high as everyone tries their best to get through finals week. Sometimes giving up often seems like the easiest path. These past two years have been especially challenging for everyone. COVID took a toll on the whole world. For students in high school, every next move was seemingly undecided. All the exciting parts that many teens look forward to had been canceled. Being at home for such long periods of time puts mental states at risk, and affects not only one person but everyone around them. 

Know that you are not alone.  No matter how stressed you are, or how alone you feel, I can tell you that the staff and students here at North High School are always open to helping out. 

We have multiple clubs on campus led by students who are often in the exact same position as you. They’ve dedicated their time to making sure you, and others feel comfortable and safe here on our campus. Just to name a few, the clubs that are available to students include NAMI, OPEN, Gardening Club, Rise, and Interact. If you have a certain interest you feel like you also want to open up onto this school’s campus, our staff gives students the opportunity to open up their own clubs. Especially this year, the opportunities to maintain grades have been endless. The district has provided a free subscription to PAPER for every student. This allows all students to get online tutoring in every subject from professors  and college students from around the world. If online tutoring doesn’t work for you, we have fellow students who have signed up to assist others in their class or homework. While the semester comes to a close, and grades will be reset, it’s vital students take advantage of the opportunities that are currently provided. The North staff strives to make the campus an inclusive environment for all students.  

This is my fourth year at North high school, and it wasn’t until a couple months ago when I found out about other resources available to students. If I had known and utilized all the resources our school offers, it wouldn’t have taken me this long to find a balance between school and life. I had the opportunity to interview one of our school’s SAP (Student Assistance Program) Counselors to give some more insight into what they do to help and how she personally deals with some issues that are brought to her attention. 

For some background information,Angelica Plascensia acquired her Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from California Baptist University in 2012. She is also licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist with the board of behavioral sciences in 2017. 

 

  1. As a SAP Counselor, what do you believe are the most common emotional and mental problems teens tend to face?

 

“This year, I have noticed that the rates of students presenting with symptoms of anxiety and depression have risen dramatically. Since 2020 we have experienced a pandemic, social unrest, and losses in our lives, which have impacted these rates. Fortunately, I have also noticed that the school district’s support for students and their families has also increased to adequately support students struggling with mental health needs.”   

 

  1. What is your strategy when it comes to working with teachers, parents, and school administrators?

 

“Collaboration! Ultimately, I know we all share a common interest, and we all want to do what’s best for our students. We each have different areas of expertise within our various roles that we can combine to ensure that our students meet their greatest potential. Keeping this in mind leads me to ensure that I constantly collaborate with teachers, parents, and school staff to ensure our students’ needs are met.”

 

  1. How do you foster an atmosphere of trust between both student and parent? 

 

“I think trust is vital in any relationship we engage in as a SAP Counselor, I work with students and parents on sensitive topics, and it is very important for me that they feel comfortable working with me. Maintaining clear communication with students and parents can be beneficial in fostering a trusting relationship. In my role, in particular, I ensure that the families I work with clearly understand my role and my limits of confidentiality so we can work  together in supporting students. Working together with the students and parents to develop goals can also help foster an atmosphere of trust. I believe that students and parents are the experts in their own lives, and when we work as a team, we can more effectively support students in achieving their goals.”

 

  1. As an example, what types of interventions do you recommend for students diagnosed with ADHD problems? 

 

“It truly depends on the student and the areas they struggle with the most. Each individual is unique, and ADHD may manifest differently in different individuals. I would say most often, interventions that teach students time management skills, organizational skills, and social skills such as communication, cooperation, and emotional management can be beneficial for ADHD. In some situations, regular use of physical activity can also be helpful to students in managing their struggles with ADHD.”

 

  1. And how would you approach counseling a student who is experiencing bullying?

 

“Bullying can have a severe effect on the well-being of individuals. When working with students experiencing bullying, I work with them to explore their options and responses to the situations occurring. Discussing the situations with students can help validate their experiences and empower them to take the steps necessary to protect themselves. Bullying can happen in different ways and is NEVER acceptable. Make sure you and others around you speak up against bullying and seek support from staff on campus if you or anyone you know is experiencing bullying.”

 

Ms. Plascencia was able to share light on how she personally deals with issues that often come forward in a workplace such as hers. Just like any other staff member here at North she wishes nothing but the best for the students at this  school. Hopefully this can bring more awareness to the resources that are available to everyone at John W. North high school. More importantly, I hope students will feel more comfortable coming to school  and reaching out to staff or friends and finding the help and support they need.