CHS Counseling Room Remodeled

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Last school year’s Suicide Prevention Committee Vice President Breanna Bowe, Class of 2021, helps paint the CHS counseling room a light shade of blue. “We needed something that would be calming and a safe place,” she said.

Claudia Brown and Karin Juhl

Chilton School District offers students counseling services provided by Samaritan Counseling center in this room. Suicide prevention committee, a student organization, finished remodeling the room this past summer.

Over the course of this past school year and summer, CHS’s counseling room was remodeled. Suicide Prevention Committee, a student organization that aims to end the stigma around openly discussing mental health, led the project.

“We decided to take this project because the committee wanted to do an activity that was fun and that would also benefit the students of Chilton High School,” last school year’s Suicide Prevention Committee President Elizabeth Wagner, Class of 2021, said. “As a committee we put a list together of what we would all like to see in the room that would be helpful to students while at the same time be a welcoming place for all.”

According to Mrs. Denys Mallmann, the Chilton Middle School school counselor and former co-adviser of Suicide Prevention Committee, plans for remodeling the counseling room began during the 2019-2020 school year, and they were hoping to start remodeling it at the end of that school year.

However, when COVID-19 caused school to go virtual, Suicide Prevention Committee’s plans came to a halt. Then last school year, the student organization picked up those plans and put them into action.

“Being able to help put this room together was a great experience,” said last school year’s Suicide Prevention Committee Vice President Breanna Bowe, Class of 2021. “And I had so much fun working with other members of Suicide Prevention to make sure our school has a great resource like this.”

Chilton School District offers students counseling services provided by an outside clinical counseling service.

“If you are feeling stressed or in any way unable to work through the issues that are constantly on your mind, you may benefit from this resource the district is able to provide in coordination with Samaritan Counseling Center,” said Mrs. Cathi Knaus, the district mental health navigator and school psychologist. “Mental health professionals from Samaritan Counseling Center of the Fox Valley, Inc. can provide therapy and support to help you work through your personal struggles.”

At the high school, these services are provided in a small conference room in the Pupil Services area, across the hall from CHS School Counselor Mrs. Rebecca Knepfel’s office. The room is set up to provide a relaxing, comfortable setting with a sound machine outside the door to ensure confidentiality.

“If you are concerned about insurance, cross that off your list of reasons to neglect this important aspect of self-care! Because of a grant, Samaritan is able to work with clients on payment options,” Mrs. Knaus said. “If anyone feels they would benefit from counseling and they are unable to access services otherwise, consider this opportunity. In the words of Albus Dumbledore, ‘Happiness can be found in even the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.’

To receive these services during the school day, reach out to Mrs. Knepfel and let her know you are interested.

Input from a therapist who used the room was included in the planning process. Among the recommended items, the larger table that filled most of the room was replaced with a smaller one that allows for more flexible use of the space.

Also, fidgets, a sound machine, a large digital clock, coloring books, an area rug and other items were added to make the room more comfortable and useful for students who receive counseling there.

About half of the cost for the project was covered by Suicide Prevention Committee. The remainder of the cost was covered by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s School-Based Mental Health Grant.

The Chilton School District Allies in Mental Health Education (AMHE) Team had successfully applied for the grant, and part of the money awarded to the district helped fund the project. This grant gives the Chilton School District money every year to fund activities that promote student mental health.

Mrs. Mallmann said, “Teachers in our district felt that this was a much-needed space at the high school, so we agreed to set aside dollars to use for that purpose.”