The Octagon weighs in on the recent hiring of high-school counselor Pat Reynolds.

Jacob Sands
“The Unsatisfiable”

Out of the recent turmoil concerning social media and stress, one good thing has risen – the much-awaited presence of an on-site counselor.

Ever since the counselor position was removed in 2009 due to the financial crisis, there’s been talk of filling that position again.

Recently, the school hired experienced counselor Pat Reynolds, who will be teaching life skills to freshmen and sophomores. The hope is, according to Brooke Wells, head of high school, that the lowerclassmen will learn how to eliminate stress and behave properly in both physical and virtual settings.

Unfortunately, this seems to have raised serious qualms among students in the classes involved. Even after the first round of sessions, student complaints were already circulating in the classrooms and the quad.

What exactly are they complaining about? Many lowerclassmen have expressed their frustration at the loss of their beloved “free longs” and openly label the class a waste of time.

But wait a minute there – who was it who complained about high stress levels? Who was it who misused social media? Who was it who criticized the school’s lack of action?

Hint: it wasn’t the faculty.

The school has made a massive effort to address stress concerns this year. We’ve been provided with the opportunity to fill out polls, online surveys and email questionnaires. We’ve indicated our dissatisfaction, and we’ve done more – we’ve complained and complained and complained.

And the school has responded. It responded rather quickly, too.

So before we begin berating the staff with complaints about their attempts to assuage our other complaints, let’s take a few moments to appreciate the school’s action and care.

It’s not at many schools that students’ voices are so well regarded. It’s not at many schools that students’ wants are so quickly implemented.

Let’s also remember that it’s been barely a week since these classes began, meaning most students have taken one class and some have taken two. If we’re already judging this program after just one session, maybe we really do need to learn life skills.

Finally, this is a program in the making. Maybe it won’t help with stress immediately. Maybe it needs to find its bearings. So instead of blindly criticizing the baby, teach it something. Make suggestions; help it grow.

Even if the counseling program is initially unsuccessful, our tolerance will aid the school in strengthening it. And who knows? Maybe in the future there will be a student who really needs the help.

All that said, one immediate problem remains: educating students about online etiquette is a step in the right direction, but absolute boundaries must be set in stone.

As of now, rules regarding online behavior remain fuzzy because the student handbook is outdated.

Without definitive consequences for specific offenses, students have an uncertain sense of whether or not they’re stepping over the line.

The Octagon suggests that members of the student body and faculty be selected to form a committee that will meet over the summer to update the handbook.

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