Education Matters: Advisory Period at Sylvan Hills High

SHERWOOD, Ark. - Some students at the Pulaski County Special School District's Sylvan Hills High are taking advantage of a new program.

If you ask most of the students, they'll tell you Advisory Period is essential.

"It prepares us for the future," says student Emily Dipple.

"It gives everyone involved a sense of community... a sense of togetherness," adds her classmate Chase Swinton.

Every child and teacher at school is in Advisory just 30 minutes each week. It's time spent to ensure that students don't get lost in the shuffle.

"That's what this is, is reaching out to other people," says student Tray Wilson.

The students say it's worth their time.

In a typical meeting, students meet with their advisor, a teacher at the school, to talk about what's on their mind, such as current topics or events.

"We made posters about bullying," Tray continues.

Students turn those conversations with their advisors into action.

"We created a video as a PSA to make suicide more aware and preventing it like giving them the hotline number," says student Kenny Vo.

Roundtable discussions center on the future and how to prepare for college.

"What is their ACT score range? Things like that, it was really helpful to me to see where I'm at and where I need to be," Chase explains.

One session focused on writing essays and how to stand out from the rest. But what makes Advisory Period unique is that it builds school involvement.

"Advisory just helps us establish connections with local busineses, with churches, with youth organizations," adds Kenny.

Most groups take on a community service project. The goal is to help others.

"Also, just being able to interact with different students and talk about daily struggles," says Emily.

Some had never talked to each other until assigned to their Advisory Period.

"Really, we start to feel more like a family. We just get to know a lot about each other in there," says student Jason Neeley.

They're all building a foundation of support and camaraderie.

A leadership team started Advisory Period a couple of years ago. As far as it knows, the PCSSD says it's the only school in Central Arkansas that does it.

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