• August 2018 Newsletter

    TOPIC: Back to School & Communication with Counselor

    Dear Students & Parents:

    Welcome to Drake High School – Home of the Pirates!!

    For those of you who are new to Drake, I am Sheila Souder, Counselor to students and resource for parents.  Students can find me in Counseling, Room 219.

    This will be a long communication, but I assure you they will get shorter as the year progresses.  Please bear with me and read on.

    Periodically, I will be sending out a newsletter to students and parents.  All newsletters are posted on My Website. I also have put together a comprehensive calendar for each grade level and each month.  It is a handy format to print and post on the fridge with this:

    • Important dates
    • Academic goals
    • College/Career goals
    • Social/Emotional Goals
    • Parent Tips/Opportunities

    Given the fact that there is SOOO much going on with you, and only one of me, these newsletters and calendars will be an essential communication tool for you to review carefully each month and discuss as a family.

    This year, in addition to my newsletter, you will receive the Counseling Connection, which is a good resource for goals of Counseling, contact info and some of the services offered at each grade level.


    The start of a new school year is a whole new adventure for some, and a continuation of exploration for others.  Some of you will return to school feeling the confidence of knowing what is ahead and building on past success.  Others will be transitioning from middle school or joining us midway through your high school career.

    You may be wondering about the rigor of the classes, the challenge of the project based learning environment, how you will fit in, or where you will make new friends.  It is a scary time for some, but Drake is known as a warm and welcoming community with a place for students to find their niche.  Places to explore when finding your comfort zone:    Crew, your SLC or Academy, Peer Resource, mock trial, Jolly Roger, the sailing team, the game club, athletic teams...the list goes on.

    Keep in mind the big picture, the grand scheme of things... WHO ARE YOU BECOMING?  That is part of what high school is all about: creating your own recipe for success through self-exploration.

    I hike in the hills of Marin because part of my recipe for success is balancing work with being in nature.  One of my favorite parts is running into former students or their parents.  Conversations are wide ranging.  Chatting with a student who now works in the fashion industry with her mom as a business partner.  Another parent of two former students said one son is in Australia putting his liberal arts/engineering degree from Cal Poly to use in an internship, while another is volunteering through WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) in New Zealand.  Two more are attending California community colleges and holding down full time jobs as independent adults. One is following in his father's footsteps, living in New York City. These former Pirates are exploring the world and their potential, and their parents take great pride in their accomplishments.  When I think back to their high school years, I remember how engaged they were in their friendships, their athletic teams, their creative pursuits, and figuring out their dreams.   What I don't remember is their GPA or SAT scores.  I do know that they were working on exploring interests and maintaining balance in their lives as teens.  This is a strength that has carried over into their adult lives.

    I’m hoping that you and your parents will strive to have a wonderful year as you each create a unique mix of pursuits and endeavors, which add spice to the experience of high school.  Try mixing a cup or two of academics, with a dollop of extracurricular activities, then add a splash of socializing with a little pinch of daydreaming, and you may find your own recipe for a successful year.

    Let’s judge the success of the year, not by how you feel today or mid-September when your first set of projects and exams are due, and not merely by numbers on your transcript, but by how you feel in May when things are winding down and you are looking ahead.  Have you gained new skills and confidence?  Have your experiences brought you new insights?  Do you feel better prepared for the next adventure?  Are you becoming the young adult you want to be?


    • Newsletter - link to My Website.
    • In The News! - a long list of articles that may interest parents and students on a wide variety of topics
    • Parent Resources - a short list of links for parents
    • Counseling Connection - a fall overview of the Counseling year with list of contacts
    • Pirate News – every Monday on the website and emailed home – please read weekly for updates and information
    • Student/Parent Handbook - policies and procedures
    • Instructional Guide - course information, graduation and college preparatory requirements
    • Family Connection at Naviance - a great site for college searches, scholarship info, and resume building for college and beyond.


    I encourage students to talk to me in person with all questions and concerns.  I would love parents to support this by encouraging students to develop a relationship with me, as one of my goals is to foster effective communication and increased independence.  We live in a very digital age, and emails often do not convey the feeling or nuance that builds strong connections.  Although email is really speedy and efficient sometimes, it quickly becomes overwhelming and time consuming, which is the opposite of the intent. I am trying to focus the vast majority of my attention on direct student service, so please LIMIT PARENT EMAILS to communication that cannot take place between student and counselor.  If you have a true emergency (i.e., child in danger), please call and leave a voice message.  Emails are for non-urgent issues and may take four or more days for a response.  Last year I left for summer with over 900 unread emails, as there is not enough time to read them if I am being a live resource to your students, which is my priority.

    When emailing me, please ALWAYS put your (your student’s) first and last name and grade level in the subject line (i.e., Emily Field – 12).  Please do NOT add any other information in the subject line – thank you.

    I run a paperless office and will be sending all  information  via e-mail.  Major info will be on the website.

    I realize that the start of school will feel like a bit of an information overload, but I have so many things to inform you about, so please excuse the length of these initial communications.



    “Live a balanced life.  Learn some and think some,

    And draw and paint and sing and dance

    And play and work every day some.”

    ~~ Robert Fulghum


    2018 August