New school counseling department


Ian Babcock

Mrs. Risdal sits at her desk as she works on college apps. This department can help with all issues including social, emotional, and academic. “This school counseling department is very dedicated to helping kids navigate through high school,” said Theressa Risdal.

Ian Babcock, Staff Writer

On the first floor of Hollis Brookline High School, you will find a wing with five new faculty members, along with three returning faculty members, who are ready to help students in any way they can. Newly redesigned by the district, this group, made up of dedicated school advisers, is Hollis Brookline High School’s new school counseling department, formerly known as the guidance department.

Since the school counseling department features five new school counselors and a new assistant principal to watch over the department, it may be difficult to introduce yourself to all the new members of our community. Every new school counselor comes from somewhere different, such as school counseling department head, Theressa Risdal. She was “a school counselor at Trinity High School in Manchester for 15 years, 4 ½ as a school counselor and 10 as a director.” Risdal was also a school counselor at Southside Middle School in Manchester.  

Our new vice principal, Lauren DiGennaro’s career began out of state. “I was at a high school in Long Island, New York for 16 years,” said Digennaro. “The difference between New Hampshire and New York is how student centered it is. What I mean by that is we didn’t have as many options for kids to accelerate in,” she said.

This new department has cause for some questions, such as why did HB decide to change the name from guidance to school counseling? Are they trying to focus on new things, or maybe attempting to  remove the old guidance format? HB solely changed the name because, “guidance is too limiting [of a name]. What school counselors do far surpasses what the guidance definition was,” said DiGennaro. “Guidance was seen as guiding kids to go to college, but school counseling is seen as solving all types of issues. School counselors help foster emotional growth, social development, working with families, and then the academics and college planning, just to name a few,” she said.

What does the new department do the best?  “That’s hard. I think what the school counselors do the best is meet the students’ needs everyday,” said Risdal.  Risdal also talked about how these counselors accel at balancing their various roles, such as helping kids apply to schools, assisting them in talking with teachers, and having confidential conversations. “The ultimate goal of the department is to have students understand themselves better in the three groups (educationally, socially, and emotionally),” said Risdal.  “At the end of the day, we help students have success at Hollis and beyond,” she said.

Under the counselling services tab on the Hollis Brookline High School website, the school counseling mission statement explains all the functions this new department has in store. These features include counseling and consultation, program development, student appraisal, and more. This tab also explains the role of school counselors, and the importance of them in a school.  

The main focus of this department is to, “make sure students are safe and comfortable and to strive to…reach their goals,” said Digennaro. DiGennaro also explains how the school counseling department wants to find opportunities to help students have the best high school experience they can. HB’s school counselors are always trying to find ways to help students, and figure out what each student needs.

The school’s counseling department is very important to students and is open to everyone.  So, if you haven’t met your school counselor, it is highly advised that you schedule a meeting with them and introduce yourself to them, as they can make your high school experience easier and more enjoyable.