Counseling Update - March 9, 2015


Dear Gunn Community,
Here is this week's update from the Gunn Counseling Department
Support Services (All Grades)
We are all very saddened to hear of the loss of a Palo Alto High School student earlier today. In light of recent tragic events in our community, we continue the conversation about caring for and supporting our students.  Below you will find information provided by our district about the grief process, how to support your child during this time, and the differences between grief and depression.
While Gunn High School continues to provide on-campus mental health services through Adolescent Counseling Services that address the unique emotional and social needs of adolescents (including grief/loss counseling), it is important to access additional community resources as needed.  Both students and parents are encouraged to seek out information about services through the Gunn Counseling Office or the PAUSD website. Students should always be encouraged to reach out to teachers, counselors or trusted adults when they need support in coping with the challenges they might be facing. Additionally, a brief sampling of community resources is listed at the end of this newsletter.
The Grief Process :
Grief is the normal response of sorrow, emotion, and confusion that comes from losing someone or something important to you.  The length of time spent grieving is different for each person and it cannot be rushed. There are many reasons for the differences, including personality, health, coping style, culture, family background, and life experiences. The time spent grieving also depends on your relationship with the person lost and how prepared you were for the loss.
With any grief or loss, it is important, over the months that follow, to continue to provide opportunities for feelings to be expressed.  Parents play a very important role in this process as how you help them process this grief can influence how they handle other challenging situations in the future.  This is a time when parents can have a very positive influence on their children.  How you help them handle this grief will, in some large or small way, help them in the future. Giving them permission to feel and share those feelings, to cry, to love and to care may be the greatest single gift you give them.
These are some of the normal responses to grief/loss.  Your child may:
·      Appear unaffected
·      Ask questions about the death or death in general
·      Be angry or aggressive
·      Be withdrawn or moody
·      Be sad or depressed
·      Become afraid
·      Have difficulty sleeping or eating
We suggest that you listen to your children. If they want to talk, answer their questions simply, honestly and be prepared to answer the same questions repeatedly.  It is key that you continue to monitor children as they move through the grief process, not letting them isolate while respecting their privacy, and accessing resources when it appears that certain feelings or behaviors extend beyond the normal grief process.
Grief versus Depression:
Depression is more than a feeling of grief after losing someone or something you love. Clinical depression is a whole body disorder. It can take over the way you think and feel. Symptoms of depression include:
·      A sad, anxious, or “empty” mood that won’t go away
·      Loss of interest in what you used to enjoy
·      Low energy, fatigue, feeling “slowed down”
·      Changes in sleep patterns
·      Loss of appetite, weight loss, or weight gain
·      Trouble concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
·      Feeling hopeless or gloomy
·      Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
·      Thoughts of death or suicide or a suicide attempt
·      Recurring aches and pains that don’t respond to treatment.
If you suspect that your child is showing symptoms of depression as opposed to the normal grieving process, please make an appointment with your health care provider to discuss the symptoms.  A referral for evaluation by a psychiatrist or mental health professional might be necessary.  As always, if you believe your child is in imminent danger, please contact 911.
Community Resources:
KARA Grief Support (650)321-5272
Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Psychiatry Clinic
(650) 723-7704
HEARD Alliance
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24 hours a day in multiple languages)
800) 273-8255 or (800) 273-TALK
Santa Clara County Suicide Prevention and Crisis Hotline (855) 278-4204
California Youth Crisis Hotline (800) 843-5200
Grade Level Assemblies on Tuesday, March 10 during A period (All Grades)
We had planned for the past few weeks to have grade level assemblies during our extra A period this week and tomorrow we're fortunate to have the following assemblies.
Seniors will be in Titan Gym to hear and talk with Dr. Shashank Joshi and Dr. Kathleen Dong on the transition in life after high school. Sophomores will be in Bow Gym and will hear from Dr. Fred Luskin about the importance of finding happiness and balance in their life. The freshmen and juniors will be in Spangenberg and hear from Dr. Maria Daehler about the importance of sleep and how it is impacted by the 24/7 world of homework, over scheduling and social media.
Third Quarter Ends on Thursday  (All Grades)
The third quarter of the 2014-2015 school year will end this Thursday (March 12). All grades will be posted online by Wednesday, March 18.
Registration for 2015-2016 Classes Closes on Tuesday Night at 9:00 PM (9th, 10th and 11th Grades)
We are extending registration on Infinite Campus through 9:00 PM on Tuesday night, March 10.
FAQ's for Registration
Here are some frequently asked questions in regards to registration.

  1. I want to take eight (8) classes.
    Students are allowed to only sign up for seven classes each semester. There are two reasons for this, one, is that we believe strongly in students having balance in their life and the second, is that we are not funded for students to take eight classes.

    We strongly recommend taking a balanced schedule that allows you to challenge yourself academically, but more importantly, giving you free time to pursue areas outside of academics that will help you grow as a person.

    Gunn receives funding from the district that has the expectation that the average Gunn student takes approximately 6.2 classes a year. Given that all freshmen and sophomores, along with many juniors take seven classes, we are not funded to be able to allow students to take more than seven classes.


  1. I want to take two (2) classes in the same department.
    Students are not allowed to take two classes in the same department until they have fulfilled their graduation requirement in Visual and Performing Arts and Career Technical Education.

    We believe strongly that the first two years of high school should expose the students to all the different disciplines that we offer.


  1. I want to take AP classes as a sophomore.
    AP classes at Gunn are designed for the junior and senior year students. In addition to handling the coursework, there is also a maturity factor that is needed for the courses. Many students feel that piling up as many AP's as possible will make them a better student. It has been our experience that students that go down this path do not develop the all around skills to be a better student and person when they get into college.

    We believe strongly in students developing an academic balance that allows them to challenge themselves in the classroom while allowing time to explore interests outside of academics.
  1. I want to take a Zero Period Class.
    We will be looking at running a limited number of zero period classes next year. If you are interested, please enter 9980 in the course selection list and you must have the purple form (available in the counseling office) signed by your parent/guardian.

    With the exception of our Advance Broadcasting class, which has to meet before school to produce the morning news, a zero period class is an option, not a mandate. We purposely only have zero period classes that we have at least five sections so no student is forced to take a zero period class and can transfer out if it doesn't work for them. Any student who signs up for a zero period will automatically be scheduled for a G prep if possible and can not fill it with an additional academic/graduation requirement class.

Time Management Sheet/AP Contract (9th, 10th and 11th Grades)
This year the Gunn Counseling department will debut a new time management sheet/AP contract to all students at the registration sessions. This contract has been worked on by the counseling departments of both Gunn and Palo Alto High School and all high school students in the district will receive it.
All students need to fill out the time management sheet and any student enrolling in an AP class next year need to do both (Time Management/AP Contract) and return it to the counseling office stapled with their course signup sheet from from Infinite Campus by March 9.
We would like you to look closely at the sheets as you and your student are planning their schedule for 2015-2016.

CAHSEE Testing March 17 and 18 (10th Grade)
On March 17 and 18, Gunn will California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) testing for all 10th graders and any 11th or 12th grader who still needs to fulfill the test requirements.
There will be no school for all other students on those two days.
Summer School Registration (9th, 10th, 11th Grades)
Palo Alto Unified School District has opened up their online portal for you to signup for summer school classes through Infinite Campus at 8:00 AM.  
The link that will be activated can be found below.
AP Test Registration (11th and 12th Grades)
Students who are planning on taking the Advance Placement tests in May can now go online and register.
For more information, click the link below.
College and Career Center News
Family Connection Information (All Grades)
Here's some great information on our school website about Family Connection through our Naviance software. Family Connection allows you to learn more about the college application process.
The Gunn website has more information about Family Connection and a link to the Naviance too.
Scholarship Information for Colleges (12th Grade)
With college fast approaching, many students will be interested in learning about scholarship opportunities. To learn more about what scholarships are available, come to College and Career Center and see Mr. Leighton Lang.
Creating You College List Workshops (11th Grade)
The College and Career Center will be putting on workshops for juniors to help them create their college list on March 25, April 1 and May 6.
Sign up through your Naviance account for the workshops.
Community College Workshops (12th Grade)
For those interested in learning more and applying to one of our community colleges, the College and Career Center will be hosting workshops on April 1, April 15 and April 29.
Sign up through your Naviance account for the workshops.
Follow Gunn Counseling on Twitter (All Grades)
Gunn Counseling is now on Twitter. You can get updates by following us on Twitter@Gunn Counseling.
Support PiE (All Grades)
Thanks to all of you who have supported Partners in Education (PiE). The donations to PiE have helped many programs at Gunn including our counseling program. Your donations have made a difference for all Gunn students.
Thank you for all of your support and take care of yourself and each other.
Tom Jacoubowsky
Assistant Principal/Head of Counseling