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Counseling Newsletter

Counseling Newsletter January / February 2020

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For detailed information on services, updates, and important student & parent resources, visit 
Guidance Website 

Scheduling for 2020-21

Teachers in grades 9-11 will be speaking with their students regarding course options and will make formal recommendations for students for the 2020-2021 school year by March 6th,or earlier. Teacher recommendations are based upon student performance and work habits evidenced through the first half of the year. This recommendation can change if there is a decline or improvement in the student’s performance in the second half of the year.

Beginning in mid-February, counselors will meet with their students individually to review recommendations, formalize their course requests, ensure graduation requirements are being met, and encourage students to appropriately challenge themselves. Students will participate in an elective fair to explore elective options on February 6th at LHS; WPHS date to be determined. The full list of academic offerings is available through the Program of Studies which is available on the district Guidance webpage at Lakeland School.

Understanding Course Selection and Advising

Following students’ course selection in February for the 2020-21 school year, parents will be notified when verification of those course requests become available in Home Access Center for review and confirmation. This is an opportunity for students and parents to address any questions or concerns with teachers and counselors regarding course level.

Students and parents seeking a change in their recommended academic level will participate in an academic advising process.  Academic advising ensures that the rationale for course level placement is clearly communicated between teacher, student, parent and counselor so that informed decisions can be reached. Students and parents may choose a level other than what has been recommended by completing an academic advising form; but please bear in mind that while there may be exceptions, teacher recommendations are rarely off the mark!  The last day to request to move up a course level will be May 1st.

The Halfway Mark!

Believe it or not, we are fast approaching the mid-year mark, with the end of the second quarter arriving on January 31st.  The mid-year point in the school calendar is a good time to evaluate your academic progress and make decisions about how you want to finish out the rest of your school year.  Of course every good decision is backed by a plan, so consider what specific changes you need to make in your habits and touch base with your counselor and teachers if you are not sure how or where to begin.

Students must also be aware of any changes to their spring schedule, such as new half-year courses that are beginning on February 3rd.  Moreover, please note that per district BOE policy, February 11h is the last day to add a spring semester elective and March 15th is the last day to drop a spring elective.

Seniors must also remember that although mid-year grades are the last set of grades that are factored into an admissions decision, any college acceptance is a conditional acceptance, pending successful completion of the senior year.  If a student’s grades drop, the college may put the student on academic probation or take away the offer of acceptance entirely.  So be smart and plan to continue to work hard through the second half of senior year.

 College Decision Letters

Seniors, please let your counselor know when you receive any admissions decisions (whether it is an acceptance, denial, or deferral) from the colleges/universities to which you applied.  If you received a deferral, remember to write to the college to let them know that you remain a very interested candidate.  Good Luck!!

Don’t Forget Your Financial Aid!

This is a reminder that by now all college-bound seniors and their parents should have filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at FAFSA .  If you list a New York college on your FAFSA, you can link directly to the New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP).  For more information on TAP, visit Higher Education Services Corporation . You should not pay for help in seeking out scholarships, filling out the FAFSA, or applying for financial aid.  There is help available either online or by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).  Various websites offering help with filing the FAFSA for a fee are not affiliated with, or endorsed by, the U.S. Department of Education; many are scams.

Be sure to check with individual colleges to find out if they require the Financial Aid CSS Profile form (available online at College Board) and/or other forms.  Note that there is a fee associated with the CSS Profile.  Links to all forms, financial aid presentations, and other financial aid tools and information are available on the district Guidance web page.

Junior Parent Conferences Begin

College conferences with eleventh graders and a parent or guardian are beginning in January.  Parents may call the Counseling Office and speak with support staff to schedule an appointment during school hours.  For parents unable to meet at school during this time, telephone conferences can be scheduled.  Since counselors meet with all students in February and March for course requests, conferences will break during that time frame and resume April through May. Please note that the focus of a JPC does not necessarily have to be on the college process, as some students and families may also be exploring options related to enrolling in a trade program, going into the workforce, taking a gap year or enrolling in the military.

What is a Junior Parent Conference (JPC)?  JPCs are meetings designed to continue the work counselors have begun with students towards their post high school planning.  Counselors’ goals with students and parents or guardians are to:

  • ensure an understanding of the application process and required steps
  • review the student’s academic profile and align with admissions selectivity
  • help students begin to identify needs and wants (and distinguish between the two!)
    establish an individualized plan for the student and parent moving into the spring of junior year

College Mantra: Visit, Visit, Visit

Each year, perhaps the greatest regret of all seniors is that they didn’t visit more college campuses. Visiting campuses allows students to get a better sense of where they will feel most comfortable.   The best way to visit any campus is to schedule a tour in advance by calling the admissions office.  Try to see different types of campuses (large, small, public, private), and be sure to keep notes on each school.  After many visits, it is very difficult to recall differences between schools and what you liked or disliked and why.  Don’t schedule too many visits in a given day, and try to build your visit around some leisurely activities in the area to make for less stress and more enjoyment.

Upcoming Sophomore BOCES Tech Center Visit

All tenth graders will see a BOCES Tech presentation during the school day on January 10, 2020 (snow date:  January 13th), followed by an opportunity to tour the Tech campus on January 27, 2020 (snow date: January 30th.) Students will receive permission slips at the BOCES presentation.  The permission slips must be returned to Guidance no later than Friday, January 17th.  The BOCES Tech Center offers unique opportunities for students to explore many career and college preparatory programs, providing many students with practical, employable skills.  To preview what BOCES offers, go to PNW BOCES Tech Center .


  • Over 2,714 college applications were processed by the Walter Panas & Lakeland High School’s school counselors & guidance staff!
  • 988 letters of recommendations were written by faculty members of Lakeland & Walter Panas High Schools!

This fall the Guidance Department gave several presentations to the community and met with our students on a host of topics, including the following:

  • Class of 2020 College & Career Planning – senior classroom and evening presentations
  • Class of 2021
  • Junior College & Career Planning Night – evening presentation
  • College & Career Post-Secondary Planning –  junior classroom presentations
  • PSAT – Grades 10 & 11 – classroom presentations
  • 9th Grade Student Guidance Orientation –small group meetings with counselors

  • Mental Health Awareness - 9th grade students met with counselors and pupil personnel in classroom settings.



  • January 10th:   BOCES Tech presentations for 10th graders (snow date 1/13)
  • January 14th  LHS 8th Grade Orientation, 7pm. (Snow date 1/22)
  • January 16th  WPHS 8th Grade Orientation, 7 pm. (Snow date 1/21)
  • January 17th:   Permission slips due for BOCES Tech Tour (10th graders)
  • January 21st-24th:  Regents exam testing week.  Regular school days – all students are to attend.
  • January 27th:   BOCES Tech Tour for 10th graders (Snow date 1/30)
  • January 31st  End of 2nd Quarter (mid-year).
  • February TBD:   WPHS Elective Fair
  • February 5th  LHS Grade Level Scheduling Assembly TBD
  • February 6th:   LHS Elective Fair
  • February 8th  Last day to add a 2nd semester course w/ teacher approval
  • Feb. 10th –Mar.  6th: School Counselor scheduling meetings with students
  • February 11th:   2Q report cards available in Home Access Center
  • February 11th  Last day to add spring semester elective.
  • February 14th:   SAT registration deadline for 3/14 test
  • February 20th:   8th Gr. High School Transition Day  (daytime) (Snow date 3/19)
  • February 28th:   ACT deadline for 4/4 test
WALTER PANAS HIGH SCHOOL, 300 Croton Avenue, Cortlandt Manor, NY  10567
PH:  (914) 739-2823 (press 3, Guidance), FAX: (914) 739-3545
ADMINISTRATION:  Joseph Spero, Principal, Donna Bolner, Asst. Principal, Marlene Gracia, Asst. Principal
COUNSELING OFFICE:  Nadia Potter, District Director of Guidance and Counseling
SCHOOL COUNSELORS:  Chelsea Aversano, Dale Chappelle, Laurainne Mosca, Sonia Recuppio, Brandon Thomas
SUPPORT STAFF:  Mary Ellen Brown, Kathy Giordano, Carole Henkin, Kathy Zadra, College and Career Ctr.