Safety at East

Safety at East

The Freshmen Perspective

Safety. It’s such a fleeting sensation nowadays. Instead, anxiety seems to constantly dictate so many of our lives in ways that we don’t even realize. Perhaps it’s the anxiety from wondering if you’ll make it to the student entrance before they lock the doors in the morning. Or maybe it’s the anxiety from questioning whether or not you turned in that assignment last night. That feeling of helplessness, as if you’re on the edge of a cliff, seizes complete control over your mind in an instant. It’s a curious notion that just one mistake, one accident, one unfortunate illness, or one stressful assignment can send that fleeting sense of safety tumbling down. We can’t eliminate the risk of that happening entirely, but by choosing the right places, objects, and people to feel safe around, we can influence how “safe” we really are. 

When I think of feeling safe, I think of feeling comfortable. I think of being surrounded by people who care about me. In that sense, I always found the most comfort in certain people, instead of in my environment or objects in my possession. Despite the availability of guidance counselors and apps like the STOPit app, my friends have always been my first choice when it comes to feeling safe. There’s an unmatched quality of solace in having those trustworthy friends that I know I can go to for help. Whether it be asking for help understanding a topic or simply having someone to talk to, I’ve always felt most comfortable relying on them. 

I believe most people feel similarly because it’s much easier to talk to someone you know well rather than an unfamiliar guidance counselor or teacher. With a friend, you feel like they genuinely enjoy your presence and care for you because you’re their friend, not because they’re obligated to do so. It’s also just more convenient to have a reliable friend than to have to go through the trouble of tediously scheduling an appointment to meet with a counselor. The best part about it is that there doesn’t always have to be an elaborate dynamic between you and your friends. Conversations don’t always have to be deep and meaningful for them to be uplifting. It’s equally comforting to have some simple, stupid fun with friends. Laughing, making jokes, and playing around relieves just as much of that anxiety as any other method. 


Friends are easier to talk to because they’re able to relate to what you’re going through.  It can be difficult to try to explain to someone that you’re having trouble with something when all they say is “I understand” or “I know what you mean”, especially when they haven’t experienced the same thing. Friends however, experience the same daily work load, stress, and pressure that all students do and can easily relate to the issues that we all face daily. Also, because I have friends to support me, I’m able to complete my work more efficiently and confidently, knowing that if I need help, they’ll provide it. So hang around the right people. They may just save you from a world of anxiety.

Guidance Serves As a Sanctuary For Students
Find your counselor’s name and email on the board above to schedule your next meeting! (Alexis Rovner)

Whether it’s a favorite teacher, a comforting classroom, a cherished field, or a trusted friend, Cherry Hill High School East houses special spaces in every corner. These “safe spots” help East students feel at home, and the guidance department at East plays a crucial role in maintaining these havens for students, ensuring that every student can cherish their time at school while feeling secure.

The transition to high school entails more than an increased workload, a bigger campus, and more responsibilities. In adapting to the high school environment, students undergo a mental metamorphosis, developing confidence and a stronger sense of self. The guidance department at East, acting as a liaison between school faculty and the student body, is critical to students’ understanding of East’s resources for students to feel safe and happy at all times.

A trip to guidance can seem daunting, and some students, particularly underclassmen, may have the misconception that counselors serve as little more than ambassadors for selecting classes and arranging schedules.

“When you, as students, are called down to my office, there’s a natural tendency to assume you’re in trouble. However, I want you to know not to feel scared because that is not our job,” said Ms. Yolanda McClain, a guidance counselor at East.

The guidance department’s primary function is to serve the East student body. Every counselor is available to address a range of student needs, be it social, emotional, personal, or academic. And even if your assigned counselor isn’t available at any time, another counselor will be there to help out. But students aren’t required to share their thoughts, and the guidance department readily accommodates students who prefer some alone time. The guidance office has a small cubby where students can take a few moments to decompress and return to class as needed.

The guidance also recognizes that some students might not feel comfortable or want to be able to open up to a guidance counselor. Teachers and coaches, for example, can also serve as safe spots.

“If it’s not necessarily me or anyone else here, I think creating a safe space with other departments or other teachers is valid and important because Guidance is not an isolation, we’re a community, and we’re supposed to be a community,” said McClain.

Though leaving class for a few minutes and taking a break in the hallway can be an effective way to escape the chaos of the school day, students must understand the boundaries of finding a safe spot at East. For one, communication is key. Building trust and conveying stress or discomfort is necessary when taking any prolonged break from class. However, this privilege should not be taken advantage of; it’s one thing to take a step outside for a couple of minutes, but it’s an entirely different conversation when students roam the halls for half the period.

“You can have a conversation with your teacher and work out those breaks without doing it in a disruptful way,” said McClain.

Additionally, being a staunch and proactive self-advocate is crucial. Ultimately, communication requires initiative; students must be properly equipped to express to support systems how they can best be accommodated.

Guidance is more than an instrument for academic support. The guidance department is a sanctuary for students, providing a safe spot in the form of counselors and quiet corners and connecting students with their safe spots across the East campus.

“Giving them the skills to learn how to advocate for themselves is just as important,” said McClain. “Students need to know where the safe spaces are and who they can go to talk to.”

Where Do East Students Feel Safe?
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