Southwest Counselor Connection

November 2019

Mental Health Awareness

November 18-22 was Mental Health Awareness Week at Southwest. Each morning students were reminded of the importance of having a healthy mind in addtiion to a healthy body to be a happy human. They were encouraged to be aware of the choices they make in conversation, the food they eat and the activities they participate in. This week they were also encouraged to share an encouraging word to someone. Finally, because it is scientifically proven that gratitude boosts one's self esteem and overall psychological health, students were given the opportunity to write something they were thankful for and it was placed on a banner for the hallway.
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6th Grade Happenings

Since the last newsletter, I have had the opportunity to meet one on one with all but a few of my 6th grade students. I have enjoyed getting to know my students. Coming up in December I will be in the classroom doing a classroom guidance lesson on the Resilience Zone. Hopefully, students can learn what their resilience zone is and how to stay in the zone, in order to make good choices and decisions.
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7th Grade Happenings

Hello Students, Parents, and Staff!

We are well into the school year (can you believe that it is almost half-way through this year?!), and our seventh grade class continues to amaze and encourage me in so many ways on a daily basis. I'm thrilled to see the development of maturity in our students as it is being developed through social interactions, academic progress, and goal setting. Over the next few weeks and months, we will begin looking ahead as we begin to discuss future career goals through interest exploration and fields of career and study. As always, please know that you can contact me at any time with any questions or concerns that you might have. Thank you for such a great year so far!

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8th Grade Happenings

As our first semester of 8th grade is coming to an end we will turn our focus to High School!!! Students will begin learning about School Choice program, Highland School of Technology and Gaston Early College.

School Choice: Gaston County Schools launched new school choice Academy programs for the 2019-2020 academic year. The additional programs will triple our number of school choice/magnet school options for students and parents.

Listed Below are the school choice for high schools with a description of the program they offer.

Hunter Huss High School Career Choice School: Now in its third year, the Career Academy @ Hunter Huss High School is an outstanding program that provides coursework and hands-on training to prepare students for jobs in business, trade and industry, food service, public safety, health science, and technology.

Forestview High School Collegiate Prep Program: The Collegiate Prep Academy is designed to offer a challenging curriculum so students gain the academic confidence and foundational skills necessary for success at the college/university level.

North Gaston High School Leadership Academy: In high school, students discover their independence, ambitions, goals, opinions, and beliefs. The Leadership Academy provides academic and extracurricular opportunities to support students as they find their voice and discover a lot about themselves and the world around them.

East Gaston High School Health Science Academy: The Health Sciences Academy is designed to provide students with the skills and knowledge they need for a solid foundation for success in the health services field.

Cherryville High School Public Service Academy: We need our students today to answer the call to be tomorrow’s heroes. Through the Public Service Academy, students learn how they can be heroes in their community in the following career fields: education/teaching, criminal justice, public safety, emergency medical care, and government.

Bessemer City High School Technology and Industrial Academy: The Technology and Industrial Engineering Academy is focused on preparing students for promising careers in engineering, technology, and industry-based professions such as masonry, carpentry, and advanced manufacturing.

Gaston Early College High School:The Early College is an innovative magnet school partnership with Gaston College that offers rigorous academics, state-of-the-art technology, small classes that foster group discussion and interaction, enriching activities, and much more.

Highland School of Technology: Students complete courses in one of three academies: Health Sciences; Business, Legal, and Information Sciences; and Manufacturing/Engineering Technology and Graphics. Students are challenged to think critically so they are ready for success beyond graduation in college, high-demand careers, and life.

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10 Healthy Habits of a Successful Middle School Student

In keeping with the theme of this year's Mental Health Awareness Week, we thought we would help our students, their parents, and teachers with 10 Healthy Habits of a Successful Middle School Student.

1. Sleep Habits - Did you know that it's recommended that a middle school student get 8-12 hours of sleep nightly, depending on the student's age? More information can be found on the CDC website here. Also, do you know what sleep hygiene is? Sleep hygiene is the practice of establishing positive habits and routines when it comes to evening and sleep routines to ensure quality sleep patterns. More information can be found here.

2. Screen Time Habits - While we understand that technology is embedded in nearly everything we do now, it is critical that students counter screen-time with equal (if not more!) time outside, reading books, drawing/creating things, or other forms of physical or creative activity. Please review this article regarding establishing healthy screen time habits for you and your family if this is something you'd like to address. Also, please make sure that you're informed about the most current internet lingo students use regularly on social media as well as via text. There are many websites dedicated to informing parents of this information.

3. Physical Activity Habits - The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that students that are middle-school aged should be getting at least one hour of physical activity daily. Make a weekly routine - go for an evening walk or jog together, go to the gym to shoot hoops, or take up a new hobby like yoga.

4. Reading Habits - Reading for leisure/fun has fallen more than 30% since 2004 (The Washington Post, 2018)! Reading for leisure is linked to greater vocabulary use as well as an increase in comprehension and self-confidence as a reader.

5. Learning Habits - As school counselors, we often find that one of the biggest barriers for students in the classroom is their willingness to learn something new. The task of actively learning is an exhausting and sometimes frustrating action, and often students throw in the towel on a new concept of task right before they are about to make a break-through! Please encourage your student to push through, even in the most difficult and frustrating of times!

6. Responsible Habits - What is your student responsible for? At school, each student should be bringing home at least 30 minutes of math and language arts homework nightly, Monday through Thursday. Please see this article regarding the types of responsibility students should be taking over their education during their middle school years. Does your student have responsibilities at home? Do they have chores or other expectations that they know they are supposed to complete daily or weekly? Some of our students are five years or less away from adulthood - they need to be learning what is expected to function as a young adult.

7. Self-Motivating Habits - Helping students identify what it is that drives them to be who they want to become in life is crucial during the middle school years. While there is always room for change and growth after middle school, students need to be learning to identify what it is that propels them forward internally.

8. Respectful Habits - Encouraging our students to maintain a demeanor of respect, even in the face of adversity, is an incredibly crucial lesson to teach as well as a necessary skill to foster development of. The starting place for developing respect is outlining clear and concise boundaries, both at home and at school.

9. Contributory Habits - Giving back to one's family, school, or community has profound effects on one's overall sense of belonging and well-being. Contributing positively to a common goal helps a young person also continue to develop their own personal identity and skill set. This article outlines the benefits of encouraging teens to give back to others.

10. Habits of Gratitude - It's easy to get pulled into thinking about what others have that you don't, how others "seem" to have everything, or how one's personal life or abilities don't match up to their peers - especially in our modern time of social media posts, constant advertising all around us, etc. Encouraging our students to take a moment to reflect on what they do have or are able to do, what positive attributes they possess, or any other positive element of their life is critical in developing a mindset of gratitude. Here are some relevant conversation starters to get your student reflecting on what they're grateful for!