Student Assistance Program at Pine-Richland offers support - PineCreek Journal

Student Assistance Program at Pine-Richland offers support

Monday, December 16, 2019 | 12:01 AM

Pine-Richland School District psychologists and counselors are working to get the word out to the community about social, behavioral and emotional support services for students.

In particular, they want community members to know about the Student Assistance Program, for all students K through 12, to which anyone can refer a student who may be struggling.

“Anybody can refer a student to SAP, and this is why we need to get the information out to the community and to our staff members,” district social worker Carolyn Welshonce told the school board at its December meeting. “We want to make sure not only are our staff members referring but our families are referring their own students to SAP if they feel there’s a need. We also want community members who are maybe worried about their student’s friends. Students can also refer other students or themselves.”

Situations that may trigger a referral can include a change in behavior or academics, increased absences, trauma such as losing a loved one or a family member’s illness, or suspected drug and/or alcohol use.

Once the team receives a referral, Welshonce said, they meet to determine whether it’s a case they can help with — and more often than not, it is. They will reach out to the student’s parent or parents for permission, then go into a team planning mode, gathering information from parents, the student and teachers to learn what everyone’s concerns are, and develop a plan to help with support. If parents want, they can also conduct a mental health screening.

The program has helped students access support within the schools, such as tutoring and mentoring, as well as assisted with accessing therapy and support outside the school and navigating the world of mental health treatment.

“We’re very fortunate to have staff members who really understand the resources that exist in the community,” Superintendent Brian Miller said. “And they’re all around us. It is amazing in the North Hills of Pittsburgh to know what we have around us, but the challenge is how do you become aware of and get plugged into the place that makes the most sense for that family.”

Already this year at the high school, they’ve had about 100 referrals to SAP, with an increase in parent and student referrals, according to Maura Paczan, lead school psychologist. Last year across the district, they had about 400.

Community members can find more information about SAP, including a list of resources, at under the At Your Service section.

  • There will be a rain date for graduation this year at Pine-Richland High School. District administrators first discussed the idea last spring of moving graduation from Friday night to Saturday morning as opposed to moving indoors in the case of inclement weather in order to allow more family members and friends to be part of the ceremony. Based on feedback from families, students and staff they’ve decided to go ahead with that plan. Therefore, if the weather is not conducive to being outdoors on June 5, graduation will move to 10 a.m. June 6. At that time if the weather still isn’t cooperating, they’ll move indoors to the auditorium.
  • District officials also announced this week that the track at the high school will be closed from Jan. 6 through Feb. 16 to replace the lights with new energy-efficient LED bulbs following damage to the current lights from last spring’s hail storm. The track will reopen Feb. 17.