DHS Counseling Department
The mission of the Dexter High School counseling department is to provide high quality, comprehensive school counseling services to all students. Our program, as guided by the ASCA National Model, is designed to help all students develop and enhance their academic, career, and personal/social strengths in order to become responsible and productive citizens. There is a commitment to individual uniqueness and the maximum development of human potential. Through the skillful use of strategic, timely, and personal interventions, counselors customize educational experiences in order to enhance capabilities, close achievement gaps among high and low performing groups and support positive choices.
Read more about our guiding principles, services, standards, and focus areas in our School Counseling Mission Statement.
Creekside Wellness Committee Connects Stakeholders Schoolwide to Encourage Healthful Living for Students and Staff
by Melanie McIntyre
Creekside Intermediate was recognized this past May with the Michigan School Wellness Award for their efforts in promoting a healthful lifestyle for both students and staff. The school received this award due to the creation of a centralized committee charged with improving the health culture in the building. Collaborating with Project Healthy Schools (housed within the UM Health System), the committee is led by Lifetime Fitness teachers Fred Ligrow and Angie Scott and includes representatives from the school’s Kitchen and Garden program, the counseling department, related FLEX class teachers and Creekside administration.
Meeting several times this year with Jana Stewart, a wellness coordinator from Project Healthy Schools, this committee is focused on providing students and staff with healthful lifestyle opportunities. Project Healthy Schools, “strives to improve the present and future health of youth through school-based education, environmental initiatives and engagement of the school community to support healthy choices.” Stewart will continue to meet with the committee during the 2019-2020 school year, assisting the group in creating a sustainable and long-term wellness program at Creekside.
Creekside already has many opportunities available to students that fit perfectly into the committee’s objective. The Kitchen and Garden program, with both its FLEX class offering and after-school fall and spring clubs, not only teaches cooking skills and gardening basics, but encourages students to think about what they’re putting into their bodies through nutritious recipes using fresh ingredients. Students have the opportunity to plant and harvest vegetables and herbs in the Creekside Garden, then use those ingredients in their recipes.
As a cross-curriculum activity, Lifetime Fitness students are invited to the Kitchen and Garden lab once a quarter to talk about the importance of The Six Nutrients (carbohydrates, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals and water) and then create a salad or smoothie containing these nutrients.
In addition to Kitchen and Garden, two of Creekside’s other FLEX classes educate students on different aspects of healthful living: Movement with Shannon Javis and Mindfulness with Narda Black and Elizabeth Kaylor-Palmer.
Creekside offers many opportunities for students to practice good health habits outside of the classroom as well. The Lifetime Fitness teachers have organized a Run/Walk Club before school in the fall and spring, each session culminating in a 1K/5K event – the Holiday Hustle in the fall and the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run in the spring. Monthly activity nights held after school allow students to connect outside of the school day, addressing the emotional and social components of health. Creekside’s annual field day this year has transformed into a more inclusive activity, offering physical events such as Capture the Flag and relay races, but also quieter activities like arts and crafts and charades. Even the school’s fundraiser is a health-driven activity – an annual Fun Run at the Al Ritt Field track.
The health and wellbeing of Creekside’s staff is also a component of the committee’s work. This past winter, Special Education teacher Susan Kemble started a Weight Watchers group for interested staff. Twelve staff members joined the group, which was enough to bring in a Weight Watchers Coordinator for weekly meetings and weigh-ins for 14 weeks. 6th grade teacher and participant Lisa Glover shared that, “the most impactful part was the accountability piece. As we see each other every day, we were able to support one another at lunch time, celebrate weight loss, keep each other motivated and share tips and ideas when the "sweet tooth" started screaming”. And that accountability and support paid off, as the group lost over 200 pounds overall, and plan to continue over the summer.
The Wellness Committee is already hard at work on plans for next year. With a focus on mental health, the committee has designed a quiet space called the Zen Den which they hope to have in place next year. This area will be available for any student who is struggling emotionally, giving them a safe place to calm down and regain control before rejoining their class.
Several of the committee’s planned initiatives center around the lunch room. Starting next fall, lunch periods will now include recess; students will have a 20-minute recess, followed by 20 minutes for lunch. The committee also plans to meet with Food and Nutrition to discuss more healthful options for breakfast and lunches.
At a presentation earlier this year, Project Healthy Schools explained to students that during the course of a school year, the average elementary student consumes a wheelbarrow-full of sugar in chocolate milk alone. From this, a student-initiated group formed to investigate offering free water and white milk in the cafeteria, with chocolate milk and juice-like products available for purchase. Currently bottled water and white milk are sold for the same price as other beverages, and the student group believes these healthier choices should be free. The students recently discussed the matter with Vice-Principal Lauren Thompson, who agreed they made a valid point and that administration would follow up with Food and Nutrition to explore the possibility.
“We are very proud of where we are,” says Mrs. Scott of Creekside and the Wellness Committee’s work to create a healthful environment for students and staff. “The goal is to make this the best it can be, adjusting where we need to and creating new goals as we go.”