Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Quarter

Well, here we are nearing the end of the first quarter for this school year.  It has been a quick nine weeks which will mirror the rest of the school year. This year as well as future years will fly by quicker than you can imagine.

For the Seniors, this time of year is full of promise. They are completing their college essays, requesting transcripts, contacting university representatives, and finalizing their college applications. Deadlines are approaching fast! December 1 is right around the corner and they are making sure all their t's are crossed and i's are dotted.

Juniors, this is your cue to start looking at university choices. Explore your options, visit college fairs, make arrangements for visiting college campuses and begin your discerning process for next year. It will all help when it comes down to application time for you next fall, yes I said NEXT FALL.

Sophomores, it is not too early to start your exploration.  Keep your grades up, seek out tutoring if needed, consult your teachers, whatever it takes to keep your GPA at the level you deem appropriate. Also, attend the college fair at SIUE on October 24. Yes, you can go and explore the different universitites who will be on their campus. Please go to the College Fair page on this blog for more infomration.

Freshmen, you are just beginning this journey. Know that these quarter grades do not go on your final transcript but are instead averaged with the second quarter for your semester grade which does go on your final transcript. You still have time to bring your grades up to where you want them, where they need to be to satisfy your personal goals. 

For all of you, know we as the teachers, tutors, and administration are here to help you and guide you on this journey.

Seniors, remember you have 6 weeks. Good Luck and God Speed!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Power of Sleep

 As some of you may know, I am not a morning person and I greatly value my sleep. I honestly can't function on less than 7 hours of sleep a night, so anytime articles or research cross my desk in regards to sleep, I read and try to apply those principles to my own sleep habits.

Most recently, I came across an article on teens and sleep. Although this article had minimal to do with my sleep habits, I read it to hopefully educate my students on the hazards of little sleep. This article, published by Scholastic Magazine, stated that a full school schedule paired with after-school activities is not entirely to blame for teenagers loss of sleep, instead the loss of sleep can be attributed to cell phone use.

If you look around, except during the school day, most teenagers always have their phone in their hand. Although most teens would not think this is a problem, it is. Researchers have found that there is a direct link between sleep and phone habits. Although it seems teens are busy with school and activities, their phones are providing more distractions. Take homework for example; your teen has started homework and a text comes through, the ding of the text causes them to stop working on homework for a brief moment to look at and possibly respond to a text. This small, but significant incident has now caused their minds to shift from the homework to the phone. It will now take a brief minute to focus back on their homework, only to have this happen over and over. This can elongate the time they spend doing homework as their minds have to transition back and forth. It takes a great deal of self control to ignore the notifications coming from the phone and instead focus on homework or even chores before the evening is over.

Even after they go to bed, most of them charge their phones on their nightstand, still disturbing their sleep. Every time the screen lights up with a notification, even if the phone is on silent, will cause a disturbance in melatonin, the hormone needed for sleep.

Sleep is essential for everyone, especially teens. It is when the developing brain continues to grow and lack of sleep can hinder educational progress and everyday mood. When you take a test and you can't come up with an answer, when you miss goals during your game, when you snap at your friends, these all can be attributed to a lack of sleep. If you disrupt sleep, you disrupt function everywhere.

How can you get more sleep?  Try to limit your phone use. Make phone time a reward and only check messages after you complete homework in a subject or after you complete an entire chore. At night, put your phone in the kitchen or the living room to charge, not on your nightstand or even in your room. The light from the phone surpresses the production of melatonin. Use your bedroom as a sanctuary for sleep, no television, no phone, just for sleep.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Counseling Intern Information and Suicide Prevention Month

Over the next few months, you may see a new face around Father McGivney working alongside Mrs Madura in the Student Services and Counseling office.  Ms. Catherine Stark is a graduate student at Missouri Baptist University majoring in School Counseling, and is completing her internship in the FMCHS Student Services and Counseling office.  Therefore, please know Ms. Stark may reach out at some point by either email or telephone regarding student success and development during her time here.

Each week, I plan to cover a coping strategy or topic to broaden awareness of what you/your child my be experiencing.  The topics will range from Study Skills, to Counseling and Coping Skills, and will hopefully be something to spark discussion with your parents/child(ren).

I write this on September 1, and those in the Mental Health field know that September is Suicide Prevention Month.  I have been provided resources from CHAD (Communities Health Adolescent Depression and Suicide) as well as the Illinois School Cousneling Association, in an effort to spotlight the awareness of mental health and risk management with regards to suicide.

According to the Coalition for Mental Health, up to 25 percent of adolescents beginning at age 14 will suffer depression, and only two-thirds will receive help. Sadly, of that total, 90 percent of all suicides are associated with mental illness, and could have been prevented.

Nationally, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for 11 to 18 year olds in the United States. -CDC, 2010

Over the past 15 years, the total suicide rate has increased 24% from 10.5 to 13 per 100,000 people and the suicide rate among males has remained approximately four times higher than amoung females. - National Institute of Mental Health.

***If you believe someone is a harm to either themselves, or another person, please don't hesitate to call   9-1-1 and get help immediately.

The following is a list of resources on Suicide Prevention:

Suicide Prevention Resources:

The Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide:

CHADS Coalition for Mental Health:

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Welcome Back To School

This year we welcome almost 70 students to the Freshman class as well as other transfer students who decided McGivney was where they really belong. Welcome to our family.

One of my summer reads was "The Marian Option: God's Solution to a Civilization in Crisis" by Carrie Gress. While reading, I came to a realization that in some ways, I am a sort of a matriarch at this school. I turn to Mary a great deal and being a mother myself, I know the pull in my heart when one of my children struggle, so does Mary. This gave me a renewed sense of purpose at McGivney, one where I try to help each and every student approaching all situations with an unconditional regard. Know that I am here to help and will do so with everything I have.  

We have quite a bit to tackle these first few weeks back to school and it is my hope that through this blog I can keep you updated on all the Student Services and Counseling activites. Please also check the Master Schedule on our website as I do post happenings there as well.

For those of you new to McGivney, I would like to explain our College Representative Visit process.  Most of the representatives come to visit during both lunch hours. The students are encouraged to attend no matter their grade level. On those days, most students grab their lunches, go to the room, meet with the representative, and eat while they are learning about each university's opportunities.  Again, all ages are encouraged and invited to attend.

Seniors, I am currently holding appointments with you and your parents to map out college application plans or your next steps following graduation.  If you have not yet signed up for an appointment with me, please follow this link to do so:  Links to the Common App, the FAFSA, and the McGivney College Scholarship Guide can be found on this page in 'Useful Links'.  You have been emailed details on how to create an FSA ID which needs to be completed AT LEAST 48 hours prior to filling out the FAFSA.  Most college applications are open now and even if you plan on taking another ACT before December, you can still apply as those scores can be sent later.  If you are looking to apply to an East or West Coast school, please see if they accept the ACT or if you need to take the SAT.  I have SAT information in my office and can help you with that application process even though we do not offer that test at McGivney.  A FAFSA workshop will be held at McGivney this coming fall.

Seniors, Juniors, and Sophomores, the ACT test dates for this coming year have been set. The ACT link can be found under 'Useful Links' as well.  The next test date is October 28 with a registration deadline of September 22.  Seniors, the last ACT that colleges will be able to accept for your admittance would be the December 10 test date if you are applying under regular decision, but please notify your admissions rep if you are waiting to take the December ACT.

Juniors and Sophomores, the Illinois Regional College Fair will be held in the Meridian Ballroom of SIUE on Tuesday, October 24 from 6 to 7:30 pm.  More information can be found via this link: Plan on attending as there will be hundreds of college representatives available to you.  Find out when they have Open Houses, how they schedule visits, application requirements and more.

Email me with any suggestions of information you would like to see or opportunities I may have missed.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

So Many Things To Do 

Griffin News is overpowered with things going on in Student Services right now.  This week we are starting resumes for the freshman class.  They are all assigned a sophomore mentor who will help them formulate their initial resume and update it periodically.  The sophomores and juniors both have upper class mentors to help them with updating as well and the seniors will be polishing their's this month.  This is an ongoing process that will continue throughout the four years here in order to help organize information for college applications and careers following high school.  For some, it is overwhelming but navigable once the process has been started.  I also give them some websites that help prepare them for college and career.  Ask them to show you their accounts and how to navigate these sites.

All the college application deadlines are approaching.  Please continue to finish your applications and let me know of where your transcripts need to be sent.  I can easily send them through Parchment, so you may order them through that service as well.  Continue to update your spreadsheets.  It helps all of us to stay organized.

For those of you getting presidential interviews and notifications, please let Mr. Scholz and I both know.  I will help with the paperwork for any presidential interviews and Mr. Scholz likes to recognize your accomplishments.

Finally, for the juniors, you need to start college visits soon.  Examine the campuses and see what appeals to you.  Look for your next home for the next four years.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Something Must Be Working

As I sat down to write this post, I happened to be in the National Honor Society after school peer tutoring.  I had just talked to a few of the students who come every Monday and every Thursday with no fail.  These students had performed exponentially better on their tests today than ever before and I couldn't help but get excited and revel in the fact that they had improved---something must be working.

The smiles on their faces when they told me said it all.  They were proud of themselves and at that moment believed that they could be successful, they will be.

It made me reflect on what we deem as success.  Is success measured by good grades?  Is it measured by the amount of money we make?  Is it achieving what we deem worthy? Or, could it be feeling good about ourselves and the difference we made today?  Whatever success means to you, for me it is seeing a group of teenagers being able to navigate their way through high school, being a friend to everyone they meet.

Today was a success.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Understanding Grades, Progress Reports, and Semester Report Cards at McGivney

As an educator, this past week is one that is full of late nights discussing the positives and sometimes negatives of a child's education.  This week, Parent/Student/Teacher Conference Week, is one educators look forward to.  We like to speak to you regarding your child's progress, we like to point out things that can be improved upon, and most of all we like meeting and getting to know each and every one of you.  There are some things I have discovered this past week about my communication, the communication by the teachers, and the abilities of your children. 

These conferences are set at a progress report time, a time where your child is able to see their halfway progress and then do what is needed in order to achieve the grade they believe they deserve for the work they put in.  We like to provide you information at this point in the grading period so that changes can be made in study habits, assignment completion, and new skills can be learned in order to achieve academically.  These grades are progress report grades.  They are factored into the semester grade, but they are not yet the be all, end all.  If your child is struggling, there is still time to achieve and reach the academic level wanted.  These are grades in progress, they do not go on the transcript, but are factored in to the semester grade in December, there is still time.

As stated in the handbook, this quarter grade is added to the second quarter grade and then the final exam (10%) is factored in to give us the semester grade.  The semester grade is the one that is permanent, it is the one that goes on the transcript, it is the one that determines Grade Point Average.

Hang in there students and parents, this is only the halfway point of the semester.  If you are where you want to be academically, great.  If not, change some habits, ask for help, use some of the suggested study skills, and go in to see your teachers.  This is your academic career, you own it and only you have control over it.  Just know, we are all here to help, you just need to ask.