MS School Counselor Blog
What is the Leadership Council in the Middle School?
We had a very busy week hosting our first leadership meeting in the middle school for the 2020-21 school year. We had a record number of attendees with 36 members at the lunch meeting. We are anticipating the exciting upcoming events that will be organized in the coming months. Middle School Student Leadership (MSSL) is composed of representatives from all grade levels in middle school. These students are asked to sign a contract that states that they will not only uphold their commitment to the leadership team, but also that they will be an ambassador for CIS and their family and represent the larger CIS community. The members of MSSL are also a liaison between the Leadership Council & their respective homerooms. Representatives meet once a week (Thursdays) as they plan and execute the events and activities listed below. We have identified five subgroups that members can sign up to be a part of (note: members can sign up for one or more subgroups).
Sustainability: Students sign up for this subgroup if they are interested in taking on projects that protect our planet and future. Initiatives such as beach clean ups, tree planting, building eco bricks, and taking part in school recycling are just a few examples of areas that we will concentrate on this school year.
Event Management: This subgroup works very closely with our Athletics and Activities Director, Mr. Jared. The event management team will be involved in helping with the special events that take place on campus. Some examples of areas of responsibility may be setting up tournaments, helping with score-keeping, organizing equipment, publicity, promoting and marketing events, and organizing school spirit events.
Elementary Mentor Program: This subgroup works with our younger students during free time (lunch, breaks and after school). Some initiatives that they will be responsible for may be, but are not exclusive of, refereeing soccer games, playing on the playground, reading to younger students, participating in art projects, and generally spreading kindness and helpfulness to our younger community.
Mental Health Ambassadors: This group of students will be participating in projects that attempt to reduce the stigma and raise awareness surrounding the importance of talking openly and honestly about mental health. They will promote healthy habits to the greater CIS community. This subgroup is fortunate to have the chance to work in partnership with our high school students who belong to the Alex Panton Foundation. The Alex Panton Foundation is a not-for-profit with the primary objective of raising awareness of mental illnesses affecting children and young adults in the Cayman Islands with a particular focus on anxiety and depression. They will also have the opportunity to participate in a suicide prevention training course.
Elements/House Events: Each of our homerooms has been assigned a specific element (air, water, fire, earth). These elements span across each of the grades in the middle school. This subgroup of leadership students will work closely with our middle school teachers and students to help continue to build a sense of community through fun team activities. Each of the activities will have an element of friendly competition between the different houses. Some of the activities may include trivia challenges, scavenger hunts, team games, intramural activities, school spirit challenges, and much more.
If students in Middle School want to participate in Leadership Council, they can sign up HERE. The next meeting will take place on Thursday, September 24 at 11:35am in the ARC.
Shining a light on suicide prevention
Suicide prevention remains a universal challenge. Every year, suicide is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages. September is suicide prevention month. All month, mental health advocates, allies, prevention organizations, survivors, and community members unite to promote suicide prevention awareness. More specifically this week, we are recognizing World Suicide Prevention Day created by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP). Observed on September 10th every year, World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) provides the opportunity for people, across the globe, to raise awareness of suicide and suicide prevention.
Remember that nothing is more important than a person’s life. You can make a difference- as a member of a society, as a child, as a parent, as a friend, as a colleague or as a neighbor. You can raise awareness about the issue, educate yourself and others about the causes of suicide and warning signs for suicide, show compassion and care for those who are in distress in your community, question the stigma associated with suicide, suicidal behaviour, and mental health problems, and share your own experiences. How we communicate about suicide—both in the media and in prevention messages—makes a difference. Messages and images about suicide prevention can encourage hope and encourage people to seek help, celebrate life, and help people to understand that suicide is preventable and mental illnesses are treatable (save.org)
Social media can be a huge positive for many young people - banning it isn't the answer. We need to ensure young people feel they can safely talk to the adults in their lives about distressing things they have seen or heard without fear of punishment or losing access to social media. Recently, there was a very disturbing and graphic post on the social media platform, TikTok, where a person died by suicide in the video. Please talk to your child about appropriate and safe social media use. You can find some helpful tips for supporting your tween to have a safe online experience here.
What are we doing in the middle school @ CIS?
Health Class: One section of our grade 8 students are currently enrolled in health class and will soon be studying a unit on mental health. As part of the unit, each student will be making a 2 minute presentation on suicide prevention that they will share with the other grade 8 classes during flex time. They will also watch the short film called Step Closer: A World Suicide Prevention Day Awareness Film. Step Closer is a short film with a positive message encouraging connections and the idea that we all have a role to play in working together to prevent suicide. You can watch the two minute film here.
Suicide Prevention Training: We will be offering a suicide prevention training seminar. Participants will receive a certificate of completion. This free training provides tools a person can use to help people who might be contemplating suicide by recognizing the signs, bringing up the subject, and offering support. Sign up for Suicide Prevention Training HERE (please note that this training is available to our CIS community, including teachers, parents, and students).
Light a Candle: Each evening for the month of September, we are asking the CIS community to join the Light a Candle Campaign which was established to to show support, remember a lost loved one, for the survivors of suicide, and to raise awareness for suicide prevention. You can read more about the campaign here.
Dear CIS Community,
I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to a new school year. My name is Andie Urquhart and I am thrilled to serve as the new middle school counselor at CIS.
The journey through middle school is truly exciting - it's complex, dynamic, fun, frustrating, enriching and wondrous, and it follows many different paths. I promise to be right alongside our middle schoolers to guide them through this transition from childhood to adolescence. This is my 25th year welcoming new families back to school from their summer vacation.
For some community members, the start of a new school year is exhilarating, yet for others, it may be a time of trepidation and worry. Emotions may be particularly elevated due to the impact of Covid-19. Hopefully your time spent at home during the pandemic allowed you some opportunity to pause for reflection, practice gratitude, and allow yourself a chance to follow your passions. Some may have enjoyed the break and found it relaxing. Others might have experienced a crisis - loss of financial security within the family, loss of a loved one, feelings of loneliness and isolation. Some experienced a mix of both.
It is critical to recognize that mixed emotions are normal. Following a pandemic, we need to learn new ways of being and living. With new safety protocols in place, our world is recovering and we are all beginning to heal. We are now in a position where we are approaching uncharted waters, having to start school with specific guidelines being implemented, yet we are able to join together again to learn at CIS.
As we begin the school year, it is important to keep in mind that knowing the facts helps reduce stress, so stay informed. Our strong community principles of kindness, partnership, sustainability, and good intent are wonderful reminders for all of us as we begin the new year. These are extraordinary times that we are living in right now. We don’t know what might be affecting someone’s life, making the current situation even worse (emotionally, physically, financially). Many of us are fortunate to have multiple connections to help us through a crisis, but loneliness and anxiety are still a concern.
We tell our students that if they need to, they should reach out for help. Be patient and kind with each other. Listen to one another, and remember that mental and emotional support is available to you. My door is always open, and I will work very hard to establish trust and rapport and to respect student’s privacy so that they are free to explore issues, feelings, and behaviours. If you have a question or concern, please feel free to reach out to me by email at email@example.com. I look forward to meeting you all in person very soon.
Middle School Counselor