Dragons Dig Deep

A Mental Health & Wellness Newsletter from CHS Counselors

December 2020

May the Joys of the Season Be Yours!

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New Online Reporting Tool Available to Students

Carroll ISD is implementing a new anonymous reporting system for students in crisis and/or who need some sort of assistance. While the CHS Hotline was very effective for almost a decade, it is no longer available, and the district decided to enroll with STOPit, an online reporting tool that allows us to intervene with at risk students before they hurt themselves or someone else. It also provides us the opportunity to support students who are struggling socially or emotionally in other areas.

Please take a couple of minutes to view a video about this new system by clicking on the link: https://vimeo.com/481439360. The password is dragon1234.

Our students will have access to the STOPit mobile app which has two simple but powerful features:

Report can be used by students to report incidents to school contacts anonymously.

Messenger can be used to engage in anonymous two-way communication with school contacts.

Both Report and Messenger empower students to stand up for themselves and for one another. They can use STOPit to reach out for help if they or a peer are facing a personal crisis, experiencing bullying, abuse, self-harm, suicidal ideation, or are otherwise in need of assistance. Our goal with STOPit is to create safer, kinder, school communities both online and off.

No student information is needed to use STOPit. The only way personal identifiable information will be accessible through STOPit is if a student voluntarily includes it within the content of a report or message.

Both our school and STOPit are committed to protecting the privacy of student data. STOPit is a signatory to the Student Privacy Pledge, spearheaded by the Future of Privacy Forum and the Software & Information Industry Association. You may review STOPit’s Privacy Policy for details, including more information on how anonymous reporting works.

Please note that CHS will be launching STOPit on Thursday, December 3rd. At that time, your student will be invited to download the STOPit app from the app store on their smartphone or tablet at no charge. We will also have a link to the online platform available on our CHS Webpage under the Counseling Tab.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact one of our CHS counselors or administrators.

The Importance of Generosity!

Acts of generosity, such as giving your time, talent or resources, and expecting nothing in return, have been proven to be good for our health. Generous individuals are personally more fulfilled, happier and more peaceful within themselves, not to mention more productive at home and in the workplace.

During the holiday season, invitations to practice generosity are plentiful. Bell ringers outside of supermarkets, food bank fundraisers at the office, and blanket and toy drives for the houseless remind us of the many ways we can open our hearts through the act of giving. They also offer us a moment to reflect on the practice of generosity.

The University of Notre Dame’s Science of Generosity Project defines generosity as “the virtue of giving good things to others freely and abundantly.” When we think deeply about this definition, three parts stand out clearly. Generosity is giving “good things”, giving “freely”, and giving “abundantly.”

We can deepen our experience of generosity by moving from acts of generosity to cultivating an attitude of generosity. When we embody an attitude of generosity, the good things we share expand out from deep within our hearts as an offering of freedom from fear–no one need fear that I will harm them, no one need fear that I will take from them what is not mine, no one need fear that I will cause harm with my words.

Mindfulness Practices to Cultivate Generosity

Cultivating Generosity with Youth

  1. Act in Service. Invite youth you work with to research the needs in their communities and organize a service project around this need. Schools and youth organizations always need extra hands. The benefit of practicing this kind of generosity locally, is that youth will be able to witness the effects of their giving. Be sure to dedicate time to reflecting on how the act of generosity made the kids feel.
  2. Smile. Giving away a smile can be a simple yet impactful form of generosity. Invite students to identify a person at school whom they will offer a smile to at least once a day for month. Students can reflect on this process by journaling how if feels each day to give in this way.
  3. Practice Self-Love. Being generous with ourselves can be a lifelong challenge. We can support our youth with developing healthy self images by encouraging them to practice self-love.

Last Chance to Make Course Level Changes

Students will have one final opportunity to change from a PAP or AP course level at the end of this semester. The electronic link to the level change form will be sent to students and parents via Skyward email on Monday, Dec. 7. The Google form must be completed and submitted by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 18. Schedule changes will be effective when the second semester begins on Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. If you have questions, please contact your counselor.

Why is Developing Empathy Important for Students?

Building an understanding of what others are feeling, how their own actions can impact on others, and why someone might be experiencing feelings at a particular time is a valuable life skill for children to possess.

Helping students to develop a strong sense of empathy is beneficial because:
  • It helps them to build a sense of security and stronger relationships with other children and educators, positioning them well for learning
  • It encourages tolerance and acceptance of others
  • It promotes good mental health
  • It promotes social harmony and can reduce the likelihood of bullying
The benefits of empathetic thinking flow into adult life too. Empathetic adults may have:
  • Greater success personally and professionally
  • Higher levels of overall happiness
  • A better ability to understand others, like customers or co-workers
  • More success in leadership positions
  • More satisfying relationships and be better at dealing with conflict
  • Lower levels of stress

In a nutshell, developing empathy is a vital building block in a child’s ability to regulate their emotions and is so valuable in being able to adapt and succeed in an ever-changing world.

How can we help children develop empathy?

Parents are children’s first and most enduring teachers, and modelling empathetic behaviour is one of the best ways parents can teach their child this valuable skill.

Other simple ways empathy can be developed include:
  • Helping your child to name their feelings, as understanding their own feelings is an important first step in understanding the feelings of others
  • Talking to your child about how other people may be feeling, and why. This helps to build their emotional language and think about other people’s perspectives.
  • Caring for animals and plants, which helps children understand the role they play in helping another living thing survive, thrive and be happy.

How to Make Holiday Travel and Celebrations Safe Amid COVID-19

7 Things to Do During Winter Break

Happy Holidays! We love thinking about all that down time during the holidays and how we will fill it...sleeping late, watching Christmas movies, baking cookies, late night gameathons, and so much more. But sometimes a little boredom can set in, especially during that second week. While we don't want to "rain" on your holiday parade, we have come up with a few things you could do during the time off that will advance your academic, social, and emotional wellness.

1. Have a nice long conversation with some of the older members of your family. Loneliness and isolation have been real issues for many of the senior members of our communities over these last few months. Your conversation could be in person, on the phone, or a FaceTime call. Just spending some quality time with that person could really brighten their day...and yours!

2. If your family is going to be traveling over the holidays, see if there are any colleges in the area. While most campuses will be closed officially during this time, taking a walk across the campus can be a fun way to get "a feel" for that university and see some of the things it has to offer.

3. Speaking of college, take some time to log into your Naviance account and research colleges. All of the CHS counselors now have a virtual office linked on the CHS counseling web page, and in each office you can click on the computer to see several video offerings we have posted on how to use Naviance, the College Super Match, and much more.

4. Speaking of Naviance, another idea is to take a little time just to familiarize yourself with the various features available. College research is a big part of Naviance, but there are also interest inventories, a resume builder, community service log, and information about careers.

5. If you look around you, you may also see opportunities to do community service or volunteer with a group whose mission inspires or motivates you. Do something good for someone else, even if you don't receive community service hours for it.

6. Spend a little time (not too much) organizing your notes and papers from your first semester classes. You probably have both digital and paper documents that could be gathered, sorted, and organized for maximum use later on. This is especially helpful if you are taking any AP courses, as it will help you keep your study materials together and ready for your review before that AP exam rolls around in May.

7. Take a little time to write in a journal. Whether you prefer to write in a pretty notebook, on a few sheets of notebook paper, or type on your laptop doesn't really matter. But taking time to reflect back on the last few months of the year, how things went with school, any challenges faced by you or your family, can be very beneficial for your social and emotional wellness. This is also a good time to look forward. A new year is just around the corner (thank goodness!), so goal setting is a great way to get some positive vibes going.

The CHS counselors hope that all of our students and families enjoy their 2-week break from school. We have made a lot of adjustments to a new normal during this first semester, and now it is time to celebrate, rest, and rejuvenate for the new year. We are hopeful as we look forward to 2021 and all that it has to offer.

CHS Counseling Office


A-D Melissa Watson

E-K Sherry McCoy

L-Q Becca Piriano

R-Z Kara Cuellar

Intervention Janay Hunt

Registrar Karen Moore

Office Secretary Jill Coates