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Counselors offer support through weekly newsletter

Counselors hope to connect with Bruins through their weekly newsletter. Photo by Salvatore Ginexi

With Bruins facing distance learning challenges, the Bear River counselors have been crafting a way to connect to Bruins at home.

Mary Buhr and Cindy Henry-Grimm have created a newsletter for all students and their parents called the Counselor Connection. Mrs. Buhr described how the beginning of the idea of a newsletter came to be.

“We started the newsletter so that we could communicate important information with students,” she said. “We are hoping to stay as connected as possible with students. We are no longer able to go into classrooms or make announcements or send for students, so we thought this might be a good way to connect.”

She continued to talk about the specifics of the weekly letter.

“We know you are probably getting bombarded with email from your teachers – even though we will still email students individually when we need to,” she said. “This newsletter is a way to get general information sent out in a concise manner without clogging up your email with 101 things.”

Many students, like Senior Tommy Triplett, didn’t give much attention to the newsletter.

“I saw the newsletter, but, to be honest, I didn’t read it yet and I probably should,” he said.

However, some felt like it was a good choice that the counselors created the newsletter.

“Yes, I know of it,” said Senior Autumn Brandon. “I think it is a good way to help keep us connected in some way to the counselors.” 

“To be honest, when I got the email I didn’t pay any attention to it and forgot about it,” said Sophomore Jake Vogt. “After reading it, I feel like it could be a good idea to be sending them out.”

Besides informing students about school during quarantine, the counselors are also working on bringing mental health into the conversation. 

“Most kids of all ages are inherently social and need the social interaction that school provides,” the second edition of the newsletter said. “We are all overwhelmed and facing a unique event that no one was prepared for.”

The newsletter elaborated on the specifics of how social isolation can affect students.

“Our current situation leaves us with an estrangement that can cause feelings of severe isolation, loss of self-worth, hopelessness, and depression,” the letter stated. “The social distancing policy clearly prevents us from accessing our own established supports. Being aware of and dealing with your children’s and your own mental state is essential to successfully survive all the challenges that we are facing.”

Vogt felt this urge to protect the mental health of students was needed.

“I think it’s a good effort since a lot of students are definitely starting to feel the strain of social isolation,” they said.

Although similar to Vogt, Brandon believed that the counselors should be doing a well-rounded job informing on all subjects.

“I’d like to see more scheduling or recommendations of things for those students who are losing their minds over what to do when they’re stuck at home,” she said.

Some feel that even with this newsletter, the school dynamic won’t drastically change.

“I think it will maybe lift the morale a little bit,” said Triplett. “But the damage is already done now that school is completely out for the year.”

With this weekly email, the counselors are open to new possibilities. 

“We are open for suggestions for items students would consider helpful to come from their counselors in a newsletter,” said Mrs. Buhr. “Would they like more mental health information? Or more academic tips (study skills, time management, etc.)? Would they like information that is coming to us from SAT and colleges? What would make this newsletter something that students would feel compelled to read?”

Mrs. Buhr elaborated on the counselors’ need to help Bruins through this newsletter.

“I would also like to add that counselors go into this job wanting to help students,” she said. “We really like sitting down, listening and talking with students. Right now, we really miss being around our Bear River students. We consider ourselves to be ‘helpers’ and we want to continue doing that even though it means we have to do it from a distance. So please stay in touch with us – let us know how you’re doing health-wise, schoolwork-wise, activity-wise, everything! Try to check-in whenever possible because you are an important part of our lives!”

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Counselors offer support through weekly newsletter