Foothiller Footsteps: Support for students at Grossmont High

Posted: March 27th, 2015 | Columns, Featured, Foothiller Footsteps | No Comments

By Connie and Lynn Baer

According to the yearbook, El Recuerdo, school counselors in 1944 first supported students in their journey through high school. That year, Raymond Reed was director of counseling and dean of boys. In 1952, the staff of counselors were called the “Grossmont Shield” and included future principal Walter Barnett, long-time teacher Eva McCarthy Quicksall, Vela Gibson and May Jenkins.

Seventy years later, much has changed in society and at Grossmont. However, one thing hasn’t changed — the support the staff provides its students. Today’s counseling department includes a myriad of services; this month’s column focuses on three of those that offer students personal support.

Thirteen years ago, Grossmont created on campus a Grossmont Resource Center (GRC), which is a program to meet the personal and social needs of its students and their families. The GRC functions as a liaison between community programs and the school and provides direct services on campus to assist students to achieve personal success. Marriage and Family Therapy interns meet individually and weekly with students who need mental health support. The high school counselors facilitate the GRC’s support groups.

For the past 10 years, Grossmont has had a Peer Listening Program, a powerful intervention and support system for students who often feel more comfortable working with a peer. Once selected as Peer Listeners, students spend their junior year in training. As seniors they work one period a day in the GRC, thus allowing the school to have a Peer Listener available each period of the day.

According to counselor Noel McMahon, the Peer Listener “works to support students who are experiencing personal or social issues. Peer Listeners can also facilitate mediations between two students.”

An important part of the training is for the Peer Listener to know when an adult advisor is needed.

One event sponsored by the Counseling Department this year was “Check Your Mood” week; its purpose was to provide information about depression and suicide prevention training. During a World History class period, 10th grade students received valuable information about the symptoms of depression and the assistance they can provide those at risk. At the end of the class, the students had a chance to complete a card sharing whether they had individual questions or concerns for themselves or another person. In their ninth grade PE classes, these same students also had the opportunity to complete “help” cards; thus, for two years Grossmont students are trained in the ACT model for suicide prevention: Acknowledge, Care, Tell.

A third personal counseling program this year was a girls’ leadership conference called “Girls Rock.” Counselor Laura Dawson shares that over the past two years, 50 girls have attended sessions focusing on issues such as self-esteem, body image and healthy relationships; this year, the girls also listened to a panel of successful women discussing their career paths. Also this year, a self-defense expert, Tracy Arlington of Play-it-Safe Defense, provided training for the girls to learn self-defense techniques.

For more information about these programs and others at Grossmont High School that support students and encourage them to achieve their academic potential, please contact Noel McMahon at

Visit the Grossmont High School Museum to learn more about our 94 years of history. Museum’s regular public hours are noon to 4 p.m. on April 1 and May 6, or by appointment.

—Connie and Lynn Baer write on behalf of the GHS Museum. Reach the museum by phone at 619-668-6140; by email at; or visit the website,

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