Every school year, the Guidance In-Charge continually mediates among students brought by teachers from different year levels with problems varying from cutting classes, non-attendance, computer games addiction, gambling, vandalism, intoxicant drinking sessions within or near the campus, stealing, minor disputes and violent fist fighting, early intimate relationships and other disruptive behaviors that affect their academic performances. During the school year 2009-2010, we had three thousand four hundred eighty six (3,486) enrollees in Jacinto P. Elpa National High School, Tandag, Surigao del Sur and there was only one School Guidance Counselor by then.
The Guidance In-Charge as always, had done all that he can to be efficient in the job entrusted to him but there were times when the load of work was heavier than what his shoulders could carry for obvious reasons of imbalance between the number of his clients and his own limited capabilities. For this reason, in coordination with the supportive and efficient leadership of the Principal, Madam Imelda C. Falcon, SSP IV, the School Guidance In-Charge has organized the SPAC or STUDENTS PEER ASSISTANCE CLUB. The first batch of active members in this club belongs to the graduating students of S.Y. 2010-2011 from the first section in RBEC (Revised Basic Education Curriculum) and SSC (Special Science Curriculum).
In this study, I want to put into record the validity of the Students’ Peer Assistance Club’s existence in our school in terms of their efficiency/non-efficiency
The Students’ Peer Assistance Club (SPAC) is primarily created to assist the School Guidance Counselor in the following activities: 1. After having undergone a training on basic counseling technique in group works which I borrowed from Existentialist, specifically via Logotherapy, SPAC members will use this knowledge during Peer Counseling proper (as scheduled) or whenever a student or a group of students is/are referred by a teacher to the guidance office for having displayed some sort of detrimental behavior either toward himself or toward others. This student (upon the discretion of the School Guidance Counselor) will undergo a stress debriefing session to be facilitated by the S. Guidance Counselor himself or by two or more assigned SPAC members. 2. SPAC members will also help implement other concerns and programs in the School Guidance Office such as the SDORP (Schools’ Drop Out Reduction Program) and many others. 3. As a school club intended to be of helped to their schoolmates academically and morally, each member is expected to maintain a wholesome character. For this reason, the entire group is required to meet once a month for an ecumenical spiritual activity or prayer meeting to enhance their relationship with God. The entire members are also divided into several units composed of three members as a support group and they will meet once a week.
Their strength (inspiration) in helping others should be unshakably anchored on their faith and love of God. A SPAC member should inculcate into his/her heart the motto “Unleash the Christian Within” which is an innovated adaptation of Efren Penaflorida’s “Unleash the Hero Within”. In this club, we believe that there isn’t just a hero within waiting to be unleashed but a Heroic Christian ready to let loose and be of service to others. The kind of approach I teach my peer counselor during there is borrowed from the Existential approach via Logotherapy emphasizing on the true meaning of life. In their case, as students in particular. They will be asking their participants questions like: “Why are you in school?”; “Are you happy with your academic performance”;
“Do you have ambitions in life”; “What do you want to achieve?”; “How do you see yourself 3 to four years or more from now?”; “Is it ok if you fail getting into the higher level in high school in the next school year?” and, “Is what you are doing right now, positively contribute in getting what you want in the process?”. Furthermore, one Philosophy that we encourage our facilitators and participants to advocate in peer counseling is the following: Openness brings awareness. Awareness brings realization. Realization causes an awakening. Awakening brings one to an enlightened state. In the Light, he/she will find her truth…. and, finally he/she will be empowered to change the things that he/she needs to change and accept the things that he/she cannot change.
On July 11, 2010 the validity of the club’s existence was first tested. The students who attended this symposium were those who were displaying one or a number of failed grades in their class cards. These students were identified and eventually enlisted by the 4th year teachers during the enrollment period of S.Y. 2009-2012 and referred to the Guidance Office afterwards.
There were 160 4th year students enlisted by the 4th year teachers with failed grades in their 3rd year report cards during the enrollment period. These students were then obliged to come to school and attend a Peer Counseling on one whole Saturday afternoon of July 11, 2010. Eventually there were only around 124 actual attendees during the peer counseling proper. At the end of the first peer counseling, the participants were informally asked by the facilitators themselves to comment on the significance of the activity they have just attended. There those who said that they were touched and resolve to amend themselves for the better.
One of the issues addressed during the peer counseling session was to encourage the students to strive more and change the prevalent feeble mentality of aiming merely for a passing 75 grade. This is because many of them think that any more than the passing grade is no longer necessary. Many have not known that any four year course in college requires at least an 85% general average grade from their high school report card. In spite of the inputs exerted, it cannot be denied that there were students who were not appreciative of our efforts. Others however were stoic and bluntly stated that our peer counseling campaign was nothing but a waste time.
From time to time whenever the peer counselors would meet or bumped into their clients during recess times and other vacant periods, the former would casually inquire on the latter’s academic performance, just to show concern about their welfare.
After the first grading period of the same school year, we surveyed and traced the academic performance of each of our students-clients who attended our first peer counseling session through group work.
Regressed Academic Performance 2
Dormant Poor Academic Performance15
Improved Academic Performance`72
Significant Academic Performance11
As indicated in graph exhibited above, i.e., based on the data we have gathered, out of the 100 client-students we surveyed, 17 students that we tried to help were not appreciative of our efforts. Two had regressed academic performance-became worst recidivist and 15 of them were merely maintaining the same poor performance as before. Indeed, it was a very disheartening scenario seeing these students unresponsive of our efforts. On the other hand, however, a greater number of students, i.e., 83 of them have made tangible resolves in improving for the better. Amazingly, eleven (11) students who had never seen themselves listed among the cream of the crop top ten list in their section, i.e., from first year to fourth year have now surprisingly managed to squeeze themselves among the top ten performing list of students.
The data we have gathered have supplied an ample amount of information necessary to improve our performance for our future peer counseling activities.
The larger percentage of students who benefited from our efforts is indicative that we are indeed partly correct in our strategies or use of counseling approach during the group work process. On the other hand, the other number of unresponsive student-clients is suggestive of the fact that we are partly not accurate enough in our counseling approach. In this case we need to be flexible in the conduct of our peer counseling session. We have found out that these students were unresponsive because they cannot relate to the issues being addressed during our said first peer counseling session. We have failed to hit the real concerns on the part of these students. One of the remedies that will be employed as a result of this study is to strengthen the individual inventory service via anecdotal records in order to accurately classify our student-clients according to their concerns. Through this we would be able to comprehend the root of the problem and employ appropriate remedies on our next peer counseling activities.
The lecture focused more on anti-vices topics and motivating the students to improve their academic performance. They were also encouraged not to underestimate the power of prayer or attend to the spiritual aspect of their lives.
After the lecture, the participants were made to watch inspirational films, e.g., the life of Nick Vujicic. An Australian limbless person but manage to attain a college degree and become a successful individual in spite of his being handicapped/ physically challenged. The film was explained further by the School Guidance In-Charge, Mr. Marieto Lozada.
Villar, I. (2009). Implementing a Comprehensive Guidance and Counseling Program in the Philippines. Makati City: Aligned Transformations Publications
From “Logo Therapy Basic Principles” by Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logotherapy
From “Foundation of Healing; Sample Chapter” by dharma-haven.org http://www.dharma-haven.org/tibetan/healing-power-of-mind.htm