Cleburne High School counselors launched one of their favorite activities of the school year on Friday as they made surprise classroom visits to celebrate seniors who have received college and military acceptance.
Wearing luau-themed attire, the high school’s six-member counseling team was anything but quiet as they traveled the halls each period with shouts of “ho'omaika'i 'ana” to more than 40 students. The recognition will continue as seniors report to the counseling office with their acceptance documentation.
This is the third year counselors have included the recognition event in their department’s long list of activities. This year, college and military-bound members of the Class of 2019 are being presented with t-shirts bearing the message, “I know where I am going.”
The event was also timely, as the role of the school counselor is being celebrated with the observance of National School Counseling Week, recognizing the impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve success and plan for a career.
“This is so fun,” Counselor Glenna Pollock said. “We love celebrating our babies. We would like this to be a tradition at Cleburne High School.”
For a number of Friday’s first wave of celebrated seniors, the recognition reflects several acceptances, with scholarship, offers to match. Randall James, who accompanied the counselors as a second-period aide in the department, has heard from three state universities, choosing Texas A & M as his post-secondary destination.
“I like that the counselors do this,” James said. “It makes you feel proud of yourself to be going somewhere. My mom went to Texas A & M at Corpus Christi. She has been a major influence in my life. I admire her and wanted to follow her, in choosing Texas A & M. I plan to major in chemistry, with hopes of becoming a doctor.”
Lyndie Conner, who serves as the high school’s college and career coordinator and district director of the AVID program, said she enjoys the opportunity to honor students while they are surrounded by their classmates.
“When we came up with the idea, I really liked that we would be recognizing them in front of their peers,” she said. “I think it makes them feel special, but it also motivates their fellow seniors to notify us of their college acceptances. It also inspires our students to take that next step and apply for college, with us helping them through the process.”
Conner said including those who have been accepted for service in the armed forces was a unanimous “yes” when developing the recognition program.
“Anyone who has a plan and knows where they want to go deserves recognition,” she said. “It’s a great thing to be going on to college and great to be going into the military, which also gives students the chance to continue on to college.”
From their Mardi Gras theme in 2017 to last year’s cowboy getups reflecting the “Accepted, Y’all” t-shirts they presented, it’s all about celebrating a major accomplishment in the lives of their students as they prepare for that next step in life.
“The kids may initially act embarrassed or not show a lot of emotion when we barge into class with our party wagon and announce their names,” Conner said. “We believe, inside, they are pleased to be recognized.”
“For those who will be the first in their family to be going to college, there’s a little more excitement and pep when we recognize them,” Conner said. “What’s so wonderful about this is they can take the experience back with them and have a second celebration with their family. That makes my heart so happy.”
Academic Assistant Principal Jeri Hall joined the luau parade during the second period, describing the initiative as one of her favorites.
“I love this day,” Hall said. “It is so much fun. It’s usually at the end of the year that we celebrate these kids, as they are leaving us as graduates. I love being able to do this early in the second semester. It’s a glimpse of all that is to come.”
The CHS Counseling Department, acting on a suggestion by two faculty members, has added to their college acceptance celebrations with their “Jacket Journey Continues” postings on social media. Seniors are featured in their college shirts placing a tack on the map of Texas pinpointing the location of their next destination following graduation.
Senior Stefanie Vasquez, who is still deciding on which college to attend with hopes of extending her soccer playing career and plans for a major relating to the medical field, is looking forward to the school counselors celebrating the continuance of her journey.
“This recognition makes us feel good about ourselves,” Vasquez said. “It makes us feel we did good in achieving something we’ve been working toward for a very long time.”
Emily Wren was among more than 40 college/military-bound seniors treated to surprise recognition by their Cleburne High School counselors in the first wave of celebrations for students who have received acceptance letters. Pictured with Wren, who will be attending Tarleton State University, are CHS counselors, l-r, Glenna Pollock, Tina Barnes, Jennifer Cox, Christy Sims and not pictured, Lyndie Conner.
Addie Sims, Kyler Jones, Alexis White, Maddie McKinney, and Andrew Dickson are among the CHS seniors who “know where they are going,” in receiving college acceptance letters. They display the shirts they were presented through the Counseling Department’s Acceptance recognition program.