Herricks High School officially unveiled its new Counseling and Wellness Center after rebranding and renovating an area of the building previously known as the Guidance Office. Recently, members of the Board of Education, administration, faculty and staff toured the center and celebrated its transformation with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
The suite was extended through use of a reallocated former classroom that provides more spacious staff offices, a seated area and a private entrance. While plans for this project were developed prior to the pandemic, the expansion has proven even more valuable given this year’s challenges.
“We wanted our psychologists and social workers to have more space, so now they can hold group sessions and have more opportunities for one-on-one meetings,” Director of Guidance K-12 Natasha Khan said.
New furniture and décor provide a calming, positive environment that supports collaboration as well as individual work. Fresh paint, carpeting, signage and bulletin boards also contribute to the center’s uplifting ambiance and window replacements are forthcoming. Walls are adorned with inspiring quotes, and a positive affirmations board created by mental health staff members helps boost students’ social emotional health. A new Smart Board is used for a variety of small group sessions and staff development programs.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Fino Celano provided opening remarks and shared an analogy that the Counseling and Wellness Center is the soul of the school.
“It really is the foundation of the school, because the first mission that we all have is to take care of the social, emotional and mental health of our students,” he said. “We wanted to create an environment that is welcoming and that students will be drawn to.”
Board of Education President Henry Zanetti and Herricks High School Principal Joan Keegan also expressed enthusiasm for the project, which was completed in-house thanks to the efforts of custodial staff members. The building’s counselors, psychologists and social workers introduced their new home to attendees and demonstrated the benefits that it brings to both students and staff.
—Submitted by Herricks Public Schools