It may have seemed like fun and games, but the high school guidance department’s ice breaker program had a definite purpose. The activity was intended to help the ninth-grade students become familiar with their high school counselors, understand the importance of becoming involved in extracurricular activities, and begin to familiarize themselves with the college planning process.

The guidance counselors introduced each ninth-grade English class with an ice breaker activity. Students tossed a beach ball to each other and the counselors, stopping only to answer the question printed on the spot that the student touched when catching the ball. Before long, students knew about each other’s favorite cell phone apps, biggest pet peeves, where they hope to travel and more.   

Following the introductory exercise, students were reacquainted with Naviance, the computer program that guidance counselors utilize as a comprehensive goal-setting and college planning program and which students were introduced to in middle school. With Naviance, the counselors emphasize the importance of keeping the resume section current and completing the various surveys honestly and with sincerity. This information becomes critical for students when they begin to work individually with their counselors to develop a list of college choices that will ultimately be a good match for them.

“The college planning process must begin in ninth grade,” said Assistant Principal Rebecca Gottesman. “The information required to produce a thorough, well-rounded application requires years of cumulative information, which includes rigorous academics, extracurricular involvement and leadership, and most importantly, career interests and long-term goals." She added that it is just as important to develop new friendships and to never be afraid to try something new, saying the best high school memories often include friendships formed through shared interests.   

Counselors remain with students throughout their four years of high school, guiding and supporting them every step of the way. They encourage students to not be shy about reaching out, as they genuinely look forward to cultivating these relationships over the four years.