Cougar Connection

Student Services Newsletter: October 2019

Fall is Here

Fall is finally here and the Student Services Department is in full swing. The fall season can be one of the busiest times for seniors as they work to complete early college application deadlines. This month, counselors hosted events including two brain break activities and a new student event. Therapy dogs made their bi-annual visit and we collaborated with the PTSA to show the documentary Angst. We also worked with all ninth grade students on preparations for career development. Needless to say, the Student Services Department supports Oakton students in a variety of ways. Please take a look to see what we have been up to and what we are planning for November. Happy Fall!

First Quarter is a Wrap

First quarter is completed. Now is a great time for students and families to reflect back on the quarter. Celebrate the progress made so far and identify areas that may need improvement. Contact teachers directly for feedback and recommendations. Use the available resources such as the Center that is open every day in the cafeteria during Cougar Time.

Need help?

Free online resources such as Quizlet: and Khan Academy: are available. For World Languages, students can use Duolingo:

Below is a same Study Skills Toolkit that students can review.

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Student Services Highlights

Fall Luau & First Quarter Fall Break

On October 3rd and 30th, school counselors hosted two brain break activities during the Flex Cougar Times. The weather cooperated with us so we were able to enjoy the fresh air in the science courtyard with outdoor activities such as corn hole, hula hoops, sand art, pumpkin painting, temporary tattoos, apple stacking, and snacks.

Over 200 students attended the Fall Luau activity while 300 students attended the First Quarter Fall Break. Students were able to relax with friends and complete some fun activities. Please see photos from the events below.

Please be on the lookout for more brain break activities during future Flex Cougar Times.

Emerging Leaders Program (ELP)

On October 7, Rachel Palermo, a member of Edu-Futuro, a non-profit organization based in Fairfax and Arlington counties that serves immigrant, low-income, minority and first-generation youth, visited Oakton's English Language Learner classrooms.

The Emerging Leaders Programs (ELP) is broken into two parts – ELP 1 and ELP II. ELP I is a 12-session workshop series focused on leadership development, college preparation, and community involvement for minority and immigrant youth in grades 9-12. The goal of the program is to encourage team building and promote self-confidence in youth as they prepare for their lives after high school. ELP I is offered year-round, with sessions in the Fall, Spring, and Summer at various locations throughout Fairfax and Arlington counties. Upon completion of one ELP I session, students can apply for our second program for high school seniors, Emerging Leaders Program II where they receive a one-on-one college mentor for their entire senior year.

ELP I Fall session is from October 26th - December 14th. The Fairfax Site will be hosted at Robinson Secondary School on Tuesdays (6:30 - 9:00 pm) and Saturdays (9:30 am - 12:00 pm). We also offer ELP I in the Spring and Summer.

For more information, please contact Oakton's Parent Liaison, Ms. Martha Ghahremani. She works at Oakton High School Monday, Wednesday and Friday (8:30am - 3:30pm). Ms. Ghahremani also serves as a Spanish interpreter.


Ninth Grade Academic and Career Planning (ACP) Day

During the PSAT on October 16, ninth grade students participated in the Academic and Career Planning Workshop. Students received school-based information in a class meeting and Class of 2023 Oakton gear before moving into classrooms to work on secondary planning.

Teachers provided important lessons on transitioning to high school, exploring their strengths, technology use and asking for help. They completed activities in their Naviance Student accounts as well as completed vision boards.

New Student Meeting

All students new to Oakton this year were invited to attend the Counseling Department's New Student Event during Cougar Time on October 17 in the Aux Gym. Students completed an activity to get to know each other as well as the school activities. Treats and Oakton gear were provided to students.

Alcanza College Fair Field Trip

The College and Career Center attended a field trip with 30 students to George Mason University for the annual Alcanza College Fair. Over 200 colleges were in attendance.

Angst Documentary Viewing

In partnership with the PTSA, student services co-organized the viewing of the documentary, Angst, which is designed to raise awareness around anxiety. The film included interviews with kids, teens, educators, experts and parents. After the showing, a panel of private clinicians as well as our school psychologist, Erica Evert, and school social worker, Rachel Cherian, answered questions about anxiety.

A huge thank you to the PTSA who sponsored and coordinated the event. All of our feeder schools also joined the viewing with several administrators in attendance.

For more information about the movie and associated resources, check out

College Transcript Update

Student services and teachers worked extremely hard to meet the Early Decision and Early Action deadlines for seniors who applied to college this month. Over 65% of the senior class applied by November 1st this year, which is about 425 students. The counseling department processed approximately 2,600 transcripts.

Seniors who could like to confirm their college materials were submitted can check their status on the individual college's application portal (be aware they can be behind), Naviance Student, and the Common Application.

As a reminder, counselors will send out midyear transcripts to all colleges that a student has submitted a transcript request form. This happens in February.

College Application Workshop

The College and Career Center and school counselors offered a college application workshop after school on October 29 for seniors who needed help with their applications and essays.

College and Career Center Updates

Admission Representatives Visits

Over 200 colleges have visited the College and Career Center this fall with approximately 2,200 students attending these sessions. While the visits this fall focused on juniors and seniors, we will host another round of college visits in the spring open to sophomores and juniors.

More information will follow.

Upcoming Events

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World Kindness Day - November 13

The purpose of World Kindness Day is to highlight good deeds in the community, focusing on the positive power and the common thread of kindness that binds us. This year, Oakton will be celebrating this day of kindness with a variety of activities during lunches. We want to encourage each student to demonstrate their kindness towards each other and the world around them.

College Essay Feedback Workshop

The College and Career Center-Trailer 35 will be hosting a College Essay “Feedback” Workshop on November 18, 2019 from 3 to 4:30pm. We are excited to have four College Admissions Representatives participate in our workshop. Sign up is required through Mrs. Banbury, space is limited to the first thirty students. Please have your student stop by Trailer 35 in order to sign up or receive additional information. If you have questions, please reach out to Mrs. Banbury-

Depression Screening - November 18 and 19

Each year, student services conducts an optional depression awareness program and screening for all sophomore students. The goals of this program are to educate students on the signs and symptoms of depression, to provide tips on how to handle concerns either in themselves or in a peer, and to connect students to resources. Counselors will show a 25-minute video that highlights real-life student stories as well as scenarios. The video provides simple tips and instructions to help students identify signs of distress in themselves and others. After the video, students will complete a screening form entitled, "Brief Screen for Adolescent Depression," which is produced by the Signs of Suicide Prevention Program. Please keep in mind that screening form is not a diagnostic tool but a way to gather information that may suggest potential concerns. Parents will be contacted if the student responses warrant follow up.

This year, the program will be conducted through history classes. Parents may opt-out their student; letters were mailed home in October. If you would like your student to not participate, please contact your student's counselor.

Underclassmen Awards Program

On November 25, Oakton will be celebrating students who have earned 4.0 GPA or higher for the 2018-2019 academic year. Recipients will be receiving an invitation during Advisory on November 13.

Due to parking and construction, this is a student only event.

Oakton Pantry

Families seeking assistance from the Pantry, may use this QR to request their needs. The QR codes are posted throughout the school building for easy access.

Families wishing to help support the pantry, may donate. Food items are especially welcome as the holidays are quickly approaching. Items may be dropped at the main office, near Door 4 or items may be purchased through the Amazon Wish List: Thank you so much for your help!

Questions, please contact school counselor Ms. Magaly Rivas Wyatt.

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Counselor Spotlight

Meet Ms. Tamarah Stanley

Ms. Stanley has worked in education for fifteen years. She is very excited to continue her second year at Oakton. Prior to moving to Virginia, she was a high school math teacher and school counselor in North Carolina.

Ms. Stanley earned her Bachelor of Science in Mathematics Education and Master of Science in Counselor Education from East Carolina University. Go Pirates!!

When asked her “why”, Ms. Stanley includes a quote from Rita Pierson which states “Every child deserves a champion – an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.”

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Fall Luau Brain Break Snapshots

First Quarter Fall Break Snapshots

Counselors in Action

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Celebrating College Application Day 2019

Therapy Dog Visit