News from our Counselor- February, 2019



I am looking out my office window at the pink sunrise over the mountains and it tells me that the days are indeed getting longer and spring is right around the corner. Last night I was walking my dogs up in the hills by the mountains just as dusk turned into a clear and crisp night. It was beautiful and relaxing and my mind was wandering in its own directions. Children and young people are increasingly dealing with ADHD and anxiety, making it hard to function well at school and among friends. I sometimes talk with students and parents about mindfulness. It has become sort of a buzzword these days, and many people think that it needs to involve meditation and a spiritual path that is not for them or for young people. Some people do practice meditation to obtain mindfulness; however, anyone can develop mindfulness through simple activities that may help with relaxation, stress release and focus. Beach combing, picking berries, watching birds, a walk in the woods, watching the sunset, arts and crafts activities, etc. are among things you can do to relax your mind. Ideally, you will do these activities in solitude but company is OK if you agree to not having conversations. Did you know that there has been a lot of research on knitting and its healing effects on a variety of physical and mental health conditions? Stress, anxiety, eating disorders, cancer, heart disease…They have found that knitting heightens the brain’s alpha-wave output, which is also takes place during yoga and meditation. They key to mindfulness and allow the brain to relax is to set aside time on a daily basis and making it a routine.


Testing is a part of the annual routine for ASD. We just finished NAEP (National Assessment for Educational Progress). This assessment takes place every other year and at Steller we only need to assess 8th graders. I coordinated and organized the test at Steller but a “NAEP team” comes in to proctor the test. They were very impressed with how well our students behaved. Please let your child know if they were participating in NAEP.


Next up is YRBS (Youth Risk Behavioral Survey). The survey will take place Monday February 25th. High school students with a survey release on file will be sampled for the survey. I don’t know yet which students are selected.


Steller starts PEAKS Monday March 25th and we will test students every day through April 1st. Students in grades 7 and 9 will be tested in English Language Arts and Math. Students in grades 8 will be tested in English Language Arts, Math and Science, and 10 will test in Science only.


Seniors should have filled out their FAFSA and either completed or started their college applications. If you haven’t filled out the FAFSA, please do so asap. Students applying to colleges in Alaska should apply as soon as possible. Students are often of the impression that they don’t have to submit FAFSA and application until later if they are staying in AK. Applying early (now) will potentially make them eligible for additional scholarships. Also, please check the websites of local colleges for institutional or private scholarships and the deadlines for applying.


I have talked with many juniors about taking the SAT or ACT in the spring. The spring dates are posted in the hallway and sign up needs to happen as soon as possible. Seats fill up. I plan to host a college night in March or April depending on my schedule.


It is also time for our current sophomores and juniors to think about next year. Our school district offers selected students a great opportunity through the Gifted Mentorship Program. There is an application process involved so interested students may want to check out the requirements early to make sure they meet eligibility and make the deadline. Here is a link:


It is now noon and the day is beautiful, just as promised by the morning sunrise. A walk or run in the woods with my dogs is on my afternoon schedule before I head back to Steller to the Ice Cream Social.


Have a wonderful weekend. I hope you find time to relax your mind and enjoy the present.





Steller Parent Group Meeting is Tuesday, February 12 at 6 pm

This week, Tuesday February 12th 6:00-7:30– Join Parent Group to hear updates from Principal Reed Whitmore, as well as student reports from Op Group, news from teachers, and upcoming opportunities for families and students.

Parent group is a great way to learn more about making the most of Steller, navigating middle school and high school, and helping to support student travel opportunities and other non-traditional learning at Steller. Newcomers and new ideas are always welcome!

Parent Group meets the first Tuesday of every month at 6:00 pm in Ken’s room. If you have any items for the agenda, please email them to:

Thank you!


David Warren Cuddy Scholarship – Application Deadline March 20th

This year three graduating seniors who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement and student leadership will be the recipient of the David Warren Cuddy Scholarship Award. Candidates will have exhibited their leadership skills through their role in student government, as a yearbook editor, an athlete or in some other school wide capacity.  Sound like someone you know? For more information on qualifications and how to apply, see DAVID WARREN CUDDY SCHOLARSHIP AWARD FLYER

Junior Day – March 1st – Registration Deadline February 24th

PEAKS Testing March 25-April 5

PEAKS is a computer-based assessment administered to students in grades 3-9 (English language arts and mathematics) and in grades 4, 8 and 10 (science) each spring. This state-required assessment provides students the opportunity to show their understanding of important skills in these content areas of their grade level.

For more information and ways to help your child prepare, please review the PEAK Flyer