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During Sandy, Guidance Counselors Scrambled to Make College Deadlines

For many Ridgewood seniors, power and Internet outages threatened November college deadlines.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Ridgewood’s schools were mostly without power and closed to students. While adjustments could be made in the future to make up for the time lost—days are to be taken from the April break to add instructional time, and the quarter has been pushed back at the High School—some things couldn’t wait.

Early decision, early action, and rolling decision deadlines at over three hundred schools arrived between November 1 and November 15—a trying experience for RHS students applying in the midst of large scale internet and power outages.

The Guidance Department at the school scrambled to ensure the disaster would not damper the hopes of applicants, setting up shop at the Board of Education building for two days during the outages to help students and send out the application materials required by schools. According to guidance counselor Laura Moore, the department consulted with approximately 150 seniors and sent over 700 transcripts in the aftermath of the storm.

“I felt like I was a CNN reporter during the Gulf War trying to find a place where I could get on the Internet to send out a message of support to our seniors and their parents and to let them know that colleges would understand our situation...and not to panic,” Moore told Patch in an email.

Several emails were sent out before and after the storm, first encouraging students to get their applications in early and then corresponding with college representatives about the post-storm situation in Ridgewood. The department was successful in persuading most schools to push deadlines back.

“We tried to be very proactive in letting you know what was happening, and that we were communicating to the colleges,” Vice Principal Jeffrey Nyhuis told parents at an HSA meeting Tuesday night. “The colleges were getting back to us and saying, ‘We understand this is an emergency.’”

As it became clear that school closings and power outages would continue into the week after the storm, eight counselors, along with a support staff of three, offered seniors still without power computer and Internet access at the Board of Education, and continued corresponding with colleges and parents.

“I feel that we were able to dissipate any panic on the part of the students and parents,” said Moore. “Everyone felt that we were doing all we could to get the materials to colleges and communicate with colleges about our situation.”

Moore added that teacher flexibility in finding Internet and submitting their recommendation letters was also important in making sure no Ridgewood seniors had their college hopes dashed by the storm.

According to Nyhuis, the school got back on track for the remaining November deadlines, most of which arrive Thursday. “We’re right up to date on all our deadlines as a counseling department. Our teachers are submitting their recommendations. We’re right back on track, so don’t be fearful of things no getting out.”

Irene November 15, 2012 at 12:58 AM
I cannot commend these guidance counselors and support staff enough, particularly Dr. Margret Friedrich and Ms. Laura Moore. I am the mother of an RHS senior and they did an incredible job keeping everyone informed as best they could and going beyond the call of duty to get done what they could. They are a credit to their profession! Excellent job well done!
Pat November 15, 2012 at 01:30 AM
Thank you , James, for writing this article. I, too, am the mother of a RHS senior and think the guidance department did an amazing job during this time. They were extremely proactive and communicated well with senior parents. My child's transcripts and teacher recommendations reached their destinations in time thanks to these dedicated professionals. I'm sure a few GCs came in to the Ed. Center despite their own problems at their own homes. I cannot begin to thank them enough for their efforts and I hope the BOE formally recognizes these "above and beyond" efforts.
Pat November 15, 2012 at 02:02 AM
Correction . . . Thank you, Devin, for writing the article.
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