mental health

Academic advising groups guide high school students

SLA began a new guidance program for our high school students this school year.

“We started advisor groups primarily to address the academic needs of our students. Everything from study skills for our Freshmen to college planning for our Seniors,” says Principal David Branum.

Each week, students meet with five or six of their peers and a faculty advisor. They begin their meeting with a short worship followed by discussions about their current academic progress, developing good study habits, time management, scheduling, career preparation, preparing for SATs, applying for college scholarships and the like.

“As it continues to grow, it also provides students with an adult on campus that they can share whatever is on their mind,” says Mr. Branum. “The ultimate goal is that students are better prepared for life from a social, academic, spiritual, and physical perspective.”

Rheannon Grace LeBlanc, Junior, appreciates the valuable advice she is getting in her academic advising group with Tish Brahmia, science teacher. “I like how Mrs. Brahmia takes the time to go over not only study hacks and time management or scheduling, but also how to cope with your anxiety or depression or even how to avoid weighing yourself down and stressing yourself out. She does a happy mix of the both and I appreciate that she not only focuses on our grades but on our mental stability as well. It feels nice to know that someone cares about us as a person and not just as a student.”

Signs of Suicide Prevention Program in place at SLA



Signs of Suicide Prevention Program in place at SLA

South Lancaster Academy has chosen to implement the Signs of Suicide Prevention Program that helps students, family, school personnel, and our community recognize and better address depression and signs of suicide.

Suicide is the second cause of death in three age groups: 10-14, 15-24 and 25-34. The suicide rate is alarmingly increasing in the 10-14 age bracket. Furthermore, 90 percent who die by suicide have a mental health disorder that is treatable, according to the Center of Disease Control.

"Thinking that this could not be in our community is dangerous," says Ginnie Hakes, vice principal. 

The Signs of Suicide Prevention Program was introduced to our 9th-12th grade students. They learned the risk factors for suicide, myths, and what to do if they or a friend are contemplating suicide. The ACT acronym is a helpful way to remember the steps for helping a friend: Acknowledge, Care and Tell. Acknowledge that the person may be considering suicide and don't ignore a comment as "they're not serious." Show care and empathy for their feelings even if you don't understand them. Tell a trusted adult who can get the person the help he or she needs.

"Our school family is now trained to recognize flagged behavior in a student and ACT to get him/her connected to help," says Mrs. Hakes. "By us all working together we hope to cast an even wider and tighter safety net for our precious young people."

If you would like to learn more information, please contact Mrs. Hakes at