The Guidance Department gave a presentation at last week’s School Committee meeting on the status of their department across all the schools in the district, highlighting the need for counselors at the lower levels.

Guidance Director Lisa Dembowski walked the School Committee through an overview of the guidance staff and mentioned that there is currently no guidance counselor at the Chandler School. There is one counselor at Alden who serves 700 students at the school, three counselors at the middle school who each serve one grade, and five full time counselors at the high school. Counselors cover many areas, including social skill development, college and career preparation, and academic counseling.

At Alden, the majority of the counselors’ time is spent on social and personal counseling and there is a portion of time set aside for college counseling through lunch groups to prepare them with basic skills to help them in the future. Dembowksi said she found it interesting that there is a relatively significant amount of time set aside for college and career preparation at the lower schools. Surprisingly, counselors at the high school spent the least amount of time on college and career preparation with more time being spent on personal and social counseling.

“We spend an increasingly greater amount of time on social and personal counseling,” Dembowski said. “That is one of the needs as I move forward, getting some more adjustment counselors around the district.”

At the high school, counselors work a “flex day” to accommodate students and family appointments, which Dembowski said is a success and she hopes the guidance department can do more of the same at the other schools.

This year, 157 students submitted early applications to college. Dembowski pointed out that the deadline for early applications is Oct. 1, and she has been notified from some schools that they will be moving that date even earlier, to September. 867 total applica- tions were submitted early this year, which is an increase of 200 from last year. To date, 1984 applications have been submitted to 323 different colleges, an increase over 1,541 applications at this time last year. Ninety-two percent of seniors have submitted at least one application to a college this year.

In addition to competing against students across the na- tion for spots at various colleges, Duxbury students must also compete against other Duxbury students who have applied to the same schools. For example, over 100 Duxbury seniors have applied to the University of Massachusetts Amherst this year.

Dembowksi walked the committee through the Naviance program, which provides a forum for students to set up profiles to help them find their strengths and colleges that will fit their interests. The program also allows students to set up a planner with tasks that they have to do in order to complete everything they need for colleges.

Looking forward, Dembowski said she would like to expand the guidance department to make sure the needs of students are fully met. One of the main goals this year was for the guidance department to improve transitions between schools and into new schools. Many eighth grade families have expressed concerns about moving into the ninth grade, and Dembowski said improvements have been made to improve transition presentations for those students.

In other news, the School Committee: 

Learned that three music students were named to All State for music. Learned that the Academic Decathlon team competed over the week- end. Junior Sarah Kaso won a silver medal in math and language and literature. Owen MacDonald, Max McDermitt and Alec Mayer won honorable mentions.

Learned the Wind Ensemble was selected as the only high school band to perform at the 2014 All State Concert hour on March 19. Learned the unofficial last day of school (pending more snow days) will be Thursday, June 19.

Learned the building project is going well, as schools are in the pro- cess of packing and purging items for the big move. Learned that there are 50 eligible moving companies who have submit- ted bids for the move to the new school.

Learned the US Army Band will perform in the PAC on April 4. Heard a brief presentation from State Representative Josh Cutler. Cutler worked with senior Nick Waltz on a bill giving students more time to practice driving with their permits before receiving the licenses. Waltz testified before the Transportation Committee on Beacon Hill on Wednesday.