December 2009 Newsletter by absences


									                                Written and Compiled by the RCHS Guidance Department
                           Paige Crawford • Deborah Jarrett • Deborah Pruett • Mat Rapoza
                           143 Greenhouse Road Lexington, VA 24450 • 540-463-6150 • Fax: 540-463-9708

• • • • • • • • • • • •            Volume 18, Issue 5                                                                December 2009

 Important                                  Random Acts of Kindness
 Dates • • • •
                                            The holiday season that is fast approaching is typically thought of as the gift giving
• December 2-3                              time of year. Stores put up the decorations earlier than ever before. Radio stations
   SOL Re-takes                             are playing holiday music before we can even celebrate Thanksgiving. So instead of
• December 2                                complaining and stewing about how we seem to be thrust into the frenzy of purchas-
   Financial Aid Meeting                    ing gifts and crowded stores, let’s look for those many opportunities to practice ran-
   6:30 pm                                  dom acts of kindness…kind words, warm hugs, pats on the back for accomplishments
• December 5                                large or small.
   SAT and Subject Tests
   Not at RCHS
                                            Our student body was reminded of Rachel’s Challenge through an assembly this past
                                            month. (Rachel Scott was the first student killed in the Columbine High School shoot-
• December 12
                                            ings, and out of her story, a program building on small acts of kindness has emerged.)
   Not at RCHS                              We are moving into Rachel’s Legacy as we continue to promote kindness and thought-
                                            fulness as we go through our daily lives. It feels good to have someone show us that
• December 18
   College and Career Conversations         they care about us in some way, but I believe that it feels even better when I have
   9:15-10:05 am                            done something for someone that has made their day a little bit brighter.
• December 21-January 3                     These random acts of kindness are free. We don’t have to go to the store to buy a gift
   Winter Break / School Holiday            or card. We simply have to offer a kind word or spend time with someone that may
• December 30                               be feeling lonely. We can offer help if someone is struggling with something. Rake
   Registration Deadline                    leaves for someone who may not be able to or offer to shovel snow off the driveway
   for January 23 SAT
                                            and sidewalk without thought of being paid. Showing that we care about others can
• January 4                                 be this simple. AND it all starts with each of us. As a parent, be willing to be the ex-
   School Reopens                           ample. As you will read in the next article, parents make the largest impression
                                            whether you feel as if you do or not. Please demonstrate a new way to go through
                                            this season of giving, and I dare say that each of us will benefit in ways we don’t yet
                                            On that note, I send each of you warm thoughts for a very special holiday.
                                       Rockbridge County High School

                                      Guidance and Counseling Department Newsletter
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Be a Good Role Model -- Someone is Watching You • • • • •
Research shows that an overwhelming number of young people look up to their parents and other family members as
role models. Nearly half of young women say they look to their mothers as their role model, according to one online
survey. Almost half of teens in another survey say their role model is a family member, not a pop icon or sports star.
This means that parents may have more influence than many thought. By setting a good example, parents and other
family members help children make healthy life choices. Research also show that youth who have positive role models
are more likely to do well in school and have higher self-esteem; they also are less likely to abuse substances.
Family life can provide meaningful opportunities every day to demonstrate healthy behaviors to children and teens.
When families show caring and respect toward each other, they provide excellent examples for children to follow. Here
are some important guidelines for families to serve as positive role models:
         ∗ Talk openly, honestly, respectfully; think before you speak and always try to acknowledge your child’s point of
            view, especially when there is conflict.
         ∗ Praise your child’s positive qualities and behavior.
         ∗ Spend time together regularly; do things your child enjoys.
         ∗ Have family meals together and engage in family activities on a regular basis.
         ∗ Make some family gatherings alcohol-free to show your children that you don’t need alcohol to have a good
It is also important for parents to give children guidance to make healthy choices and take responsibility for their actions
by setting house rules. Household rules also serve to remind parents and other family members to model healthy be-
havior for children. Parents who set a good example by enforcing rules consistently, show that they care, are reliable
and stand by what they say. House rules should specify that children are not allowed to drink, smoke or abuse other
substances. This includes protecting them from alcohol or tobacco use within the family. For example, children should
not be allowed to get a beer or a cigarette for a parent or other family members. Additional “house rules” should cover
matters such as curfew, unsupervised time, homework, chores, driving, cell phones, Internet use and entertainment in-
cluding movies, television and video games.
Set clear rules and discuss in advance the consequences of breaking them. When a child breaks a rule, there should be
an immediate consequence each time the problem behavior occurs. The consequences for breaking rules can be sup-
portive so that the focus is on teaching rather than harsh punishment. Each family has differing priorities when negoti-
ating and agreeing on rules, expectations and consequences for rules broken. By providing a positive model for children
and teens to follow, parents set a good example on how to successfully navigate life’s conflicts and negative messages --
and how to choose healthy behaviors that will follow into adulthood.
Source: Rockbridge Area Community Services Prevention Newsletter, November 2009

SOL Retakes - - December 2 and 3 • • • • •
Standards of Learning tests are given to students at the end of certain high school courses. To graduate with a Standard
Diploma, students must pass at least six SOLs, one each in math, science, and social studies; two in English, and one
Students who have not passed an SOL test have the opportunity to retake the test on December 2 and 3. This is a tre-
mendous opportunity for students to earn SOL verified credits for graduation. Often, it just takes a student one more
time to pass the test.
Also, for science and social studies SOL tests, if a student takes a particular test more than once and scores at least a 375
on one of those attempts, we will award them the verified credit, even if they don't score a 400. This is called a locally
verified credit.
Ask your child's guidance counselor if you have questions about SOL retakes.
                             Rockbridge County High School

                             Guidance and Counseling Department Newsletter
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PSAT Scores • • • • •
If your child took the PSAT in October, a score report will be coming out around the middle to end of December.
Ms. Pruett and Ms. Jarrett will receive those reports and discuss the results with your child in either December or Janu-
For help understanding the score results, College Board (who offers the test) can help you:

College & Career Conversations • • • • • • •
Rockbridge County High School's annual College and Career Conversations will be held on December 18 from 9:15 to
This is a unique opportunity for seniors to hear from last year's graduates.
The students will get honest, current, and helpful information on what it is like to be in college or in the work force. This is
also a time when seniors can ask burning questions of last year's graduates.
Seniors don't want to miss it! Encourage your student to sign up in the guidance office.

College Application Update from Ms. Crawford -- Information to Share with your Senior• • •
You all have done a great job getting your applications to me in a timely fashion. It has facilitated my efficiency and, as a
result, I have been able to do my best to support you and your applications.
Congratulations to those who have successfully navigated the process and "BRAVO" to those who have already been
accepted to college!
For those of you applying regular decision, I have been looking at the usual application deadline dates for most colleges.
January deadline dates quickly follow the holiday season. We need to approach delivery of applications to me in the
following fashion:
        •   All applications due on January 1 should be in my possession no later than December 1.
        •   All applications due on January 15 are to be delivered to me no later than January 5.
        •   All applications due February 1 are to be in my office no later than January 16.
        •   If you are applying to schools with rolling admissions, turn in applications as soon as possible.

Financial Aid Cautions • • •                                                 Financial Aid Information Meeting
Parents! Don't make the mistake of assuming that college and fi-             When: Wednesday, December 2, 2009 6:30 pm
nancial information will be mailed (the old fashioned way or e-
                                                                             Where: RCHS Band Room
mailed) to you--it won't! All correspondence is sent to the student
who is applying. Your child needs to share the information with you.         What: Learn about the federal financial aid
Beware of the following website: This is a for                      application process.
profit website unrelated to the government. It charges a fee to file
your FAFSA for you--don't fall for it!
                           Rockbridge County High School
                           Guidance and Counseling Department Newsletter
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Seniors, Financial Aid and the FAFSA • • • •
  The online FAFSA ( is a Web-based version of the U.S. Department of Education's Free Application
  for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It enables you to apply for student financial aid via the Internet. Schools use your
  FAFSA information to determine if you are eligible to receive money from federal grant, loan and work-study pro-
  grams. State governments and many schools also use the information from your FAFSA to decide whether to award
  you their funds.
Benefits of the Online FAFSA
   • It's free! You don't have to pay to apply for federal student aid. Free help completing your application is avail-
       able from or by calling 1-800-4-EDU-AID.
   •   It's fast! You'll get your results 7 to 14 days faster than if you mail in a paper FAFSA. Plus, because your answers
       are edited automatically, you'll make fewer mistakes, and your school will be able to tell you sooner if you qualify
       for aid.
   •   It's easy! The Web site is easy to navigate. Extensive online help is available and more instructions are provided
       than on the paper FAFSA. In addition, unlike the paper form, the online FAFSA allows you to skip questions that
       don't apply to you.
   •   It's secure! Your data is completely secure. Sending an application over the Internet is just as safe as mailing a
       paper form.
   •   It's "dummy-proof!" Fewer mistakes are made on the electronic version than the paper version. Mistakes slow
       down the application process.
Your PIN is Key to Online Financial Aid
  Parents and students should apply NOW for a U.S. Department of Education PIN by visiting You can
  use your PIN to:
        •   Sign your online FAFSA.
        •   Review your processed FAFSA information and your Student Aid Report (SAR).
        •   Correct your FAFSA information.
        •   Print a copy of your SAR (Student Aid Report).
        •   Electronically sign loan promissory notes.
        •   Reapply for financial aid.
        •   View information about federal loans and grants you have received.
        •   Conduct other important business directly with the U.S. Department of Education.
Important PIN reminders:
   • Make sure to remember and save your PIN and don't share it with anyone, even individuals or Web sites offering
     to help you complete your FAFSA.
   • PINs don't expire. They can be used for years to come.
   • A parent with multiple children applying for aid can use the same PIN to electronically sign all FAFSAs.
Before Beginning a FAFSA
  If you don't already have a PIN apply for one NOW at PIN You and your child need a PIN to elec-
  tronically sign your FAFSA. Your PIN will be e-mailed to you within 1 to 5 days. If you don't provide a valid e-mail ad-
  dress your PIN will be mailed within 7 to 10 days.
                            Rockbridge County High School
                            Guidance and Counseling Department Newsletter
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Seniors, Financial Aid and the FAFSA (continued) • • • •
    • Section 1 of the FAFSA on the Web home page, at, has a list of all the documents you will need
      to fill out a FAFSA. In Section 1, you'll also find the deadline for Virginia's financial aid programs. State deadlines
      occur earlier than the deadline for the federal student aid.
    • Some applicants find it helpful to fill out a Pre-Application Worksheet before completing the online FAFSA. To
      print out a Worksheet, go to Section 1 and select "Worksheets."
Filling out a FAFSA
    • When you're ready to complete your FAFSA, select "Filling Out a FAFSA." Follow the on-screen instructions.
    • If you already have a PIN, use it to sign electronically at the beginning of your application. If you filled out a Pre-
        Application Worksheet, use it to complete the application.
    • Remember, the first "F" in FAFSA stands for "Free!" There is no cost to apply for federal student aid, and free help
        is available. If you need assistance completing your application: Click the "Chat" link on any screen of the FAFSA
        to chat online with a customer service representative, or call 1-800-4-FED-AID to speak to a customer service rep-
    •   Once you've completed your application, review your answers carefully.
    •   If you didn't use your PIN to sign electronically at the beginning of the online FAFSA, you can do so now. You can
        also print a paper signature page from the FAFSA on the Web to sign and mail in.
    •   Submit your application by selecting the "Submit my FAFSA Now" button on the last page of the form. Once you
        submit your application, you'll be taken to a Confirmation Page that shows your confirmation number and Ex-
        pected Family Contribution (EFC). Your school will use your EFC to determine the types and amounts of aid you're
        eligible to receive.
    •   Pint a copy of the Confirmation Page for your records.
FAFSA Follow-up
    • You'll receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) Information Acknowledgement in the mail about 2 weeks after submit-
      ting your online FAFSA. Or, if you provided a valid e-mail address, you'll receive an e-mail with a link to your SAR
      information on the Web within 5 days. If you don't receive anything in these time frames, return to Section 3 of and Select "Check the Status of a Submitted FAFSA."
    • When you receive your SAR information, review all of your answers to make sure they are right. If you estimated
      financial information on the FAFSA, compare your answers to tax returns or other financial records, and correct
      any answers that are wrong.
    • With your PIN, you can return any time to to review, print, or correct your application informa-

Rockbridge County Public Schools Foundation Helps                              Email vs. Paper • • •
Make Trip to Canadian Brass Concert Possible                                   This monthly newsletter may be provided to
 Thanks to the Rockbridge County Public Schools Foundation generous            you either through paper version or e-mail.
contribution, ticket prices were lowered to make it possible for 100 mu-       If you wish to receive it by e-mail, please
sic students to attend the performance of the world class Canadian             e-mail       Wendy        Brugger         at
Brass at the Paramount Theatre in Charlottesville on December 11,    
2009.                                                                          You can also find all of our newsletters on
Mr. Carlson, our new band director, himself saw these high caliber musi-       the school website under the Guidance link
cians play when he was a high school band student, and has never for-          (
gotten the crazy antics and the way the performers made all styles of          index.htm).
music accessible to all audiences.
                            Rockbridge County High School
                            Guidance and Counseling Department Newsletter

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Top 8 College Application Mistakes • • • • •
Senior year is hectic, but don't let the frenzy affect the quality of your college applications. Take your time, pay attention
to details and plan ahead so you can meet the deadlines.
Following are some of the top responses from counselors and admissions staff who shared the most common mistakes
on college applications.
 1. Misspellings: This is a big pet peeve of admissions people. If you misspell on something as important as the applica-
    tion, it shows either you don't care or you aren't good at spelling. Some students even misspell their intended major.
 2. Grammatical errors: It isn't good enough to just spell check. Proofread for grammatical errors.
 3. Forgotten signatures: Make sure you sign and date the form. Often students overlook it if it's on the back of the
    form. Make sure all spaces are completed.
 4. County vs. Country? Read carefully: If the form asks what county you live in, the United States should not be the
 5. Listing extracurricular activities: Those that make the list include sports, the arts, formal organizations, and volun-
    teer work. Talking on the phone and hanging out with friends don't make the cut.
 6. Not using a professional e-mail address: If you use an e-mail address that your friends laugh about, keep in mind
    that colleges won't laugh. Keep your fun address for friends, but select an address using your name for college
 7. Not checking your e-mail regularly: If you've given an e-mail address, the college will use it. You don't want to miss
    out on anything because you didn't read your e-mail.
 8. Letting Mom or Dad help you fill out your application: Admissions people know if your parents help if your admis-
    sions essay sounds more like a 45-year old than a 17-year-old. It's fine to get advice, but do the work yourself.

Helpful Hints for the Financial Aid Process • • • •
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is required for federal aid, state aid, and for low interest student
and parent loans.
Apply for financial aid early. Mail the FAFSA (snail-mail or electronically) as soon after January 1 as possible. Before
mailing the form, make a copy of it. Send it registered, certified, or overnight delivery to avoid a delay in the process-
Colleges are serious about their financial aid deadlines. Adhere to them, or you may not get what you qualify for.
The financial form requires student and parent 2009 tax information if you fill out the long tax form. Now is the time to
start working on the tedious task of getting your financial information together. It is better to file your financial aid form
with estimated information than to wait for late W2s or to wait until your income tax forms are completed, especially if
you wait until late to file or your accountant is back-logged.
Do not eliminate private schools because of a higher sticker price. Based on your financial need, the actual cost of at-
tending a private school may be more manageable than a public institution.
Students should be contacting the colleges they are applying to in order to learn if there are any financial incentives the
schools have that the students may qualify for (i.e., merit scholarships, leadership scholarships, money for particular ma-
jors, religious denomination monies, etc.). Contact the admissions and financial aid offices for this information.
                           Rockbridge County High School
                           Guidance and Counseling Department Newsletter
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 Classroom Guidance Corner • • • •

Freshmen Foundations
I hope everyone is finding time to enjoy the holiday season. Try to slip away from the hustle and bustle and sit back and
relax with friends and family.
The freshman class has also been busy the past month. In addition to their continued efforts in the classroom, the fall
sport season ended and the winter sport season began. Many of our freshmen had great seasons this fall and hopefully
will be productive in the winter. Good luck to all the teams. Clubs are in full force and make sure you come out and sup-
port the theatre department and watch their one-act “Lockdown.”
I was able to get back into the classrooms this past month as well, with a little help from Bridgett Marshall from Talent
Search. Together we presented a lesson focusing on how freshmen can make the most out of their high school experi-
ence. Mrs. Marshall and I spoke about how becoming involved in the school and the community will really enrich your
student’s careers here at RCHS. We also included a short discussion on how to be successful academically and started to
talk about choices for after high school.
The freshman class has done a great job up to this point. They must continue to push hard in and out of the classroom
and remember that what they learn now is a foundation for what they learn in the future.

Mat Rapoza

            Sophomore Sessions
                              Rockbridge County High School
                             Guidance and Counseling Department Newsletter
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  Classroom Guidance Corner Continued • • • •

Junior Journey
During this month’s Junior Journey, the students had an opportunity to meet our Career Coach, Joyce Broughman. Those
of you whose students attended Lylburn Downing will remember her as the school counselor there. She is now Director
of Career Coaches for the service region served by Dabney S. Lancaster Community College. She is at our school on
Wednesday and Thursday of each week. She also works with students at Parry McCluer.
During the class session Mrs. Broughman and I taught the students how to access and use a brand new computer pro-
gram, Virginia Wizard. This program helps students learn what careers meet their interests, values, and skills. It then
allows students to find post secondary options that would help them reach their career choice. As a part of the program,
students can compare the costs of community college to a four year college. They can also research any Virginia school
whether public or private. During this class session most students completed the interest assessment and did some cost
If you would like to see this program, have your student log in to and show you what they have done
so far. We hope to be in the classroom in the spring to continue working with this program.
As the holiday season approaches, I wish for you and your family a time of peace and celebration of each other.
Debbie Pruett
Seniors Series
The seniors are working hard to stay on top of difficult classes while also being the leaders of the school on athletic teams
and in various club organizations. Many of them are maintaining jobs and working long shifts as they accept more and
more adult responsibilities. They are all learning the challenge of time management as they get ever closer to the time
when they know they will need to be able to stand more on their own.
Many seniors are navigating their way through the confusing maze of college application deadlines and requirements. A
faithful group meets with me every Thursday during lunch just to make sure no deadlines are forgotten, and to help each
other with college essays and short answers. All seniors are welcome to attend this meeting and are encouraged to do so if
they are in the college application process. I’d like to remind everyone that if a college deadline is on or before January
1st, that all material will need to be in to the guidance office on or before DECEMBER 1st so that our office will have time
to get everything completed and mailed before Christmas Break.
IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR PARENTS: The guidance department, in cooperation with Talent Search, will be hosting a Finan-
cial Aid Workshop for Senior Parents on Wednesday, December 2nd at 6:30pm. We are pleased and honored to announce
that Vern Fairchild, a retired financial aid officer from Bridgewater College, will be the speaker that night. Please mark your
calendar and make it a priority to attend if you have any questions about finances and college.
Even though the demands of this last year of high school are intense and various, I am hoping that all seniors will make it a
priority this year to enjoy this time with family and friends before one day, they look back and realize it is over and they
missed those moments. I continue to remind students to not replace the important with the urgent. I am also encouraging
students to not be so focused on where they are going next year that they fail to finish here well. I am pleased that most
seniors performed very well on their first nine weeks report cards, demonstrating the knowledge that the responsibilities
of NOW must be accomplished before the opportunities of NEXT YEAR can be realized.
I wish each of you a holiday season full of all the things that bring you great joy and satisfaction.
Paige Crawford
                                                          December 2009
     Sun            Mon          Tue                   Wed                    Thu              Fri               Sat
                            1                2                           3          4                  5
                                             Financial Aid Meeting                                     SAT and Subject Tests
                                             6:30 pm                                                   Not at RCHS
                                                                  SOL Retakes
6          7                8                9                           10         11                 12
                                                                                                       Not at RCHS
13         14               15               16                          17         18                 19
                                                                                    College & Career
                                                                                    9:15-10:05 am
20         21               22               23                          24         25                 26
                                  Winter Break / School Holiday
27         28               29               30                          31         1                  2
                                             Registration Deadline for
                                             January 23 SAT
                                       Winter Break / School Holiday
3          4
           School Reopens

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