Students at Holy Family start Day 1 with an eye toward a successful future. From the moment each ninth grader steps through the front doors—below the words “Live Jesus in our hearts…Forever”—the journey begins.
Every part of the Holy Family High School experience is a building block to a personalized and successful future. For 99 percent of the students, this means attending college. Whether they realize it or not, planning for post-high school academics has already begun.
To ensure every student gets the support needed to navigate the crucial years ahead, Holy Family Counseling has developed a four-year game plan. Helping each student complete the plan is one of five experienced guidance professionals, teaming up with a student all four years.
“Holy Family’s counselors are personally invested in students’ futures,” says Melissa Livermore, Dean of Academic Support. “It’s a holistic approach to academic preparation and the college search and application procedures, personalized to each student’s specific needs, goals and dreams.”
With a counselor-to-student ratio of 1:98, which is well below the American School Counselor Association’s recommended 1:250, Holy Family Counseling is well equipped and eager to meet the needs of each student. Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect from Day 1 to graduation.
Ninth Grade: The year of discovery
It goes without saying that the first year is a critical year for high school students. While most students and parents are focusing on transitioning from middle school to the demands of high school, counselors are already looking ahead. To do that, they make it a three-way conversation right from the start, hosting a parent meeting to map out the next four years and shed light on the process. These parent-focused sessions continue for all four years.
“It’s very important to get parents into the loop because it’s a partnership—students, parents and school,” says counselor Laura Horton. “Being able to share things about kids (with parents) helps us support the students and create open lines of communication, so we’re all on the same page.”What else can first-year Holy Family students expect?
They begin learning about personal interests and strengths in new ways:
• Career inventory and interest assessments are taken with the help of the MN Career Information System (MCIS), a portal for college preparation and application activities.
• One-on-one guidance sessions are held between students and counselors.
• Students take the PSAT9 exam, a predictor for future PSAT scores. These scores also direct students into Advanced Placement (AP) course options and chances to qualify for National Merit
Tenth Grade: Road map for the future
Armed with information gathered in ninth grade, students now have a road map that points in many exciting directions beyond Holy Family. What are the first steps students take to help navigate it? They begin pulling information through their MCIS portals and match it up with potential college options that are a strong fit. Exciting time? You bet!
But wait, there’s more…
• ACT® prep begins through MCIS and by way of integrated ACT elements in HF curriculum.
• During Leadership Institute, a required tenth-grade course, students take the StrengthsQuest test to identify their top talents, to gain a better sense of who they are as
individuals. Counselors help students dive into the results to understand what they mean for each individual, their college search and career choices.
• The guidance team also helps students build their portfolios and begin crafting academic resumes. These resumes bring students to a higher level of self-awareness. It’s a critical
time to ask: What have I been doing? What do I need to be doing? Where can I take a leadership role?
As Horton explains to students in tenth grade: “Hone in on your strengths. Be a leader.”
Eleventh Grade: Dreams become plans
This is a critical year for high school students. It is the time when dreams become attainable. Guidance counselors help students zero in on college choices and ensure their Holy Family course loads meet the academic requirements for the schools on their application lists.
“Typically, by junior year, students have an idea of where they’re headed, what career fields they’re looking at,” Livermore says. “It’s a time to make sure they are on track and can reach their goals.”
- • This is also the year of college admissions testing. Early fall finds 100 percent of Holy Family eleventh graders taking the ACT® or PSAT Some students have been preparing through the summer to reach a goal score, after establishing a baseline test in tenth grade or earlier.
- • In the spring, members of the English Department meet with students to guide them in the college essay writing process. By the end of the academic year, students have a solid version of their college essay ready for college applications.
Twelfth Grade: Preparing for new beginnings
In a year filled with lasts, counseling is focused on ensuring students are ready for their next beginning beyond Holy Family. Deadlines are important and checked off, and assistance is given in making sure college financial commitments do not become barriers to achieving dreams.
Holy Family hosts a workshop in August to show students how to utilize Parchment, a digital transcript delivery service, and fill out the Common Application. Students can receive one-on-one assistance in filling out the Common Application, used by more than 750 colleges and universities around the country.
• 100 percent of Holy Family seniors successfully complete the college application process by November 1.
• A Financial Aid Workshop is held to guide students and parents through the process and identify opportunities.
• Students are constantly updated on scholarship offerings, and staff reaches out to students who fit criteria for specific scholarships.
• Excitement builds as the future is in sharp focus. Soon, acceptance letters hit students’ mailboxes.
According to Livermore, a counselor’s work isn’t quite finished.
“There’s still a lot of checkpoints to meet,” she says, and staff takes steps to ensure students are meeting all the important post-acceptance deadlines, including a critical one: May 1, National College Decision Day.
Horton sums up the Holy Family four-year game plan with a very simple, succinct sentence: “It’s how we make each student’s future dreams reality.”
Click on the button below to read our blog article, ” Three Reasons Holy Family Students Succeed.”