The Guidance Department: “Guiding” Us in the Right Direction

Salvatore Bonasia ‘22

As another school year at Salesian comes to an end, despite the circumstances, the Guidance Department has been working tirelessly to make sure that all students stay on track for a successful completion of the school year. They encourage students to keep working hard, regardless of distance learning or it being the final weeks of school, and to hand in any assignments we have to do or make up. They don’t want students to start slacking because we are home and summer is right around the corner. They insist that we keep working hard, communicate with teachers, participate as much as we can, and avoid the nearby vacation to cause our final averages to decrease. Out of this situation, the Guidance Department has missed their face-to-face interactions with students, especially when they really want to be there for us during these tough times. 

However, they encourage us to appreciate the time we have had through this experience. In each of our counselors’ personal lives, they are all immensely grateful for the fact that they are able to spend more time with their families at home. In  Mrs. Cioce’s opinion, “….the pandemic has definitely had its challenges and been a time of self-reflection for me personally… It made me realize how normally we take the little things for granted so much and so easily, such as going to work, hanging out with friends, taking a walk, and attending Sunday mass.” She also mentioned that it’s upsetting to see that all of us had to miss out on the springtime events that are held at Salesian, like Savio Day, Junior Ring Day, and Graduation. 

The Freshman and Seniors had it the toughest this year, considering that the Freshman wasn’t able to get an experience of a full year at Salesian, and the Seniors weren’t able to have their full final year here. Ms. O’Connor is able to relate to this when she commented, “I’m very sad that I didn’t get to spend the last couple of months with this year’s seniors. The Class of 2020 and I started at Salesian at the same time, so they’re the first group that I got to see go all the way from freshmen to seniors.” The separation has made it a large challenge for both counselors and students because the communication with each other is limited. Mrs. Gabriel puts it perfectly when she expresses, “…I really missed being with everyone in person – it is not easy being a Counselor from home! It is part of a Counselor’s nature to be with people and help people, and that is not easy to do from home, of course.” This goes to show that the detachment from students and their guidance counselor has made it challenging for not only the students to reach out and ask for their help with coping in these difficult times, but for the counselors to help as much as they possibly could, comparing top if they were face-to-face with the student and able to sit them down and counsel them. Mrs. Cioce says it herself, “To not be able to have more direct communication and interaction with the students especially during all of this made me feel helpless at times and wishing there was more I could have done to be there for them”.

When we are due to return to classrooms in September, the Guidance Department agreed that communication was key for starting school back up again smoothly. The department collectively agreed that we should be ready for any scenario that comes our way, and that we should be incredibly proud of ourselves, the Salesian Community, for how well we cooperated with the new and sudden distance learning protocol. As it will take time to adjust back to our usual in-classroom setting, we will have to go by safety guidelines and reach out to our teachers as much as possible if a problem is to occur. As Mrs. Cioce sees it, we should remember when going back to school that we are still a family, and “…when a family goes through something as major as we did, it is important to work together in order to become a stronger unit as a result. Upon our return to school, I hope for some growth from all of us and overall better awareness and appreciation of basic things,” such as just being with each other, teachers and students, in a classroom as a whole again. She concludes this by saying, “When we are back in the building, we also need to remember to be smart, mindful, and respectful of one another now more than ever” and I think we could all agree on that.

Unfortunately, they do not know if we will even be returning to classrooms when September comes since it is still too early to call and that we could only hope and pray that we do get to come back and see each other in school again when the Fall Semester starts up again. On that note, they all leave us with their own special personal message to all of us students and everyone else in the Salesian Family. Ms. O’Connor leaves us with, “I hope everyone is staying healthy and doing well! I miss getting to see everyone and I can’t wait for the day that we’re able to be together again. I hope you all have a relaxing, enjoyable, and safe summer!” Mrs. Gabriel concludes her interview with, “I miss each and every student and faculty member and I continue to pray for everyone’s health and safety. I hope to see everyone very soon.” Lastly, Mrs. Cioce wishes to everyone, “I continue to pray for all of you and your families during this time and hope you are doing well. I think I can speak on behalf of the entire Guidance Department when I say that we are still always here for you no matter what. I have missed seeing you all on a daily basis, whether it is for a talk in my office or just saying hi in the hallway. I am looking forward to experiencing those simple things again when we get back. Wishing you all a fun, relaxing, and safe summer break!”