Student Support Center accessible to struggling Cougars

By Kaleb Adams, Clarion Staff Writter

For students in need of assistance throughout the school year, John F. Kennedy High School has implemented a Student Support Center that provides services like mental health support as well as supplies for students and parents in need. If teens need help with handling bullying or simply just need someone to talk to, the center is open during school hours at C-3, previously home to Casey’s Corner, next to the library.. Essentially, the center provides several methods and services to accomplish improving cougars’ academic performance, safety, and mental health, with the help of mentors and mental health advocates.

Regarding the center’s staff, Coordinator Christina Harris, school Social Worker Sangita Vakis, and Mental Health Advocate Jerist Roberts work together to equip students and parents with services. These include mental health counseling, support groups, crisis intervention, and safety risk assessments. In-sync, they also oversee activities for those struggling with bullying, violence, and suicidal thoughts. 

For those struggling financially, the center additionally provides referrals to schools and community resources that aid in accommodating food, shelter, housing, employment, public assistance, health insurance, and more. Financial services also provide school supplies and backpacks.

Most importantly, all words exchanged by teens and the Student Support center are all kept confidential unless they may inflict harm on oneself and others. Students are able to drop in at any time during school hours or are able to submit a referral. 

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Spaces in the Student Support Center are available for students to discuss current life issues with staff. Photo by Red Morales Diaz.

It’s very crucial that students are able to have access to support by professionals who value doing so. Here at Kennedy and according to a recent questionnaire with those conducting the Student Support center, that’s exactly what’s provided!

“Supporting students is important because everybody is going through something in life and it’s good that they are able to come and get the support they need” says Vakis regarding how the Student Support Center values cougars.

“If their grades aren’t good or attendance issues are present, we try our best to figure out what’s going on in the student’s life to cause this!” added Social Worker Sangita Vakis. 

The student support center also has a positive outlook around campus according to students and staff.

“With the Student Support Center, students are now able to see exactly where they can get help everyday” says Nicolas Nelson, senior at Kennedy and Co-President of the Rainbow Coalition Club. 

“Yeah. The staff there are very friendly and reliable” says a Kennedy senior who wishes to not be named, regarding their views on the center.

 The Student Support Center is important to all around campus and those there to help regarding any obstacles going on in their life. Anyone interested can feel free to visit the Kennedy website and visit the Student Student Support Center page for contact information on our team, links to student, parent, and teacher referrals, along with a virtual calming room. 

Student Support Center staff holding their official sign. The Center is located in C-3, during school hours, and available to all students. Photo by Kaleb Adams

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