Peer Counseling class to become club for 2022-23 school year

Peer+Counseling+Teacher+Laura+Lowrey+goes+over+the+google+form+for+Spring+2022s+Peer+Counseling+Support+Groups.+Going+into+the+2022-2023%2C+Lowrey+will+no+longer+have+class-time+dedicated+to+training+because+the+program+will+continue+as+a+club.

Maddie Almodovar

Peer Counseling Teacher Laura Lowrey goes over the google form for Spring 2022’s Peer Counseling Support Groups. Going into the 2022-2023, Lowrey will no longer have class-time dedicated to training because the program will continue as a club.

Melina Ramirez, News Editor

After the 2021-2022 school year, Bonita Vista High (BVH) will be offering Peer Counseling as a club and not an elective class. This came after several weeks of discussion between Peer Counseling teacher Laura Lowery and the six peer counselors taking the class. 

“It has been one in the making for a couple of months because in the first semester of Peer Counseling this year, we had a lot of peer counselors. It was great but it was hard because they didn’t have proper training,” senior and peer counselor Zorayda Chaidez said.

Several factors came into play that initially made Lowery propose transitioning the class to a club, one of those being student availability. As it stands, Peer Counseling is a class that students must add to their schedules. Often they can not due to higher level classes and other extracurriculars. 

Once the class transitions fully to a club, more students will be able to join which will boost the  dwindling numbers of peer counselors that as of now is six, four of them being graduating seniors. Furthermore, once Peer Counseling becomes a club there will be an emphasis on support group management and a decrease of one on ones between a student and peer counselor. Lowery expressed that the change will “lessen the burden of knowing the right thing to say.” 

“I’ve recently realized that it’s a lot of pressure to put on a student. That’s a heavy burden to put on students and I don’t think it is fair or right. We should have school psychologists and counselors doing that while students can be supportive and help other students, but it shouldn’t be required,” Lowery said. 

Recently, two support groups were dropped because of the lack of peer counselors available to facilitate them. Chaidez, as well as junior and peer counselor Miles Tobitt hope that with the increased number of peer counselors the two support groups that were removed will reopen. They anticipate that the program will be able to offer more support groups that previously could not be sustained.

“One thing I feared starting this semester when I walked in class was that there were six students. I was [like], ‘please, please do not let this program fade away’,” Chaidez said. “I believe the school needs to show more support and interest in the Peer Counseling program because the one thing students will not ask for is help, especially when they’re struggling. They need that random friend that they can come to every now and then to cry, to yell and to even  show their success.”

…the school needs to show more support and interest in the Peer Counseling program because the one thing students will not ask for is help, especially when they’re struggling.”

— senior and peer counselor Zorayda Chaidez

When Lowery initially brought up the idea it was received with some skepticism. Some worried about the lack of student participation and argued that having Peer Counseling as a class would make participation mandatory. However, after lengthy discussions the class decided that turning Peer Counseling into a club was the best course of action for the program’s growth. 

“Part of me did have doubts because I know of some clubs that want to get bigger but they just struggle finding students to get involved,” Tobitt said. “I figured that because psychology has grown to be a very popular major, a lot of students would be interested in joining the club, especially if it’s at the convenience of not taking a class.”

Lowery reports an estimated 19 peer counselor applications were turned in and an additional five students have shown interest in the program. Peer Counseling will be holding a four day summer workshop for students who wish to be involved in the club the next school year. In the training, students will learn skills they will use as peer counselors to try and support fellow students during support groups. 

“I’m always impressed with how self-aware students are and how mental health is something that’s more commonly talked about now. If we can get teenagers the skills and tools to deal with mental health struggles, they’ll be better off for the rest of their lives. There’s so many things that I wish I knew as a teenager that would have helped me throughout my life, this program does that,” Lowery said.