New counselor Leah Young reminds us that, above all, FHC is a family


The introduction of anyone new to the staff is always a topic of gossip but especially so when it comes to counselors. For many students at FHC, counselors are the equivalent of angels sent from heaven. They develop our schedules, help us to get into college, prepare us for when we get there, calm the day-to-day anxieties and stress of high school, and a number of odd jobs that pop up along the way. Naturally, the loss of a counselor and the introduction of a new one is going to cause a ruckus.

With our best interests at heart, the administration began a rigorous process to acquire a new counselor who would care for us with the same fervor that Bolhuis had. And after an extensive process, Leah Young emerged as the prime candidate.

“The interview process was first a more formal interview, asking questions to get to know how they would respond to certain situations,” Passinault said. “We had a second group that had to go through an activity where they had to role play as if they were introducing a new family to Forest Hills Central. So a pretty extensive process for the [first] interview. And Ms. Young stood out as the top candidate. And then we do a second interview over at the administration building that includes some of the assistant superintendents and myself. We thought Ms. Young was the standout.”

Due to the variety of things that go into being a counselor at any high school, especially a high school of our caliber, there were a few attributes they looked for specifically. All of which, and then some, Young possessed.

“One of the things that Ms. Young had, and a couple of the other candidates had, too, was having some experience with clinical work and clinical counseling,” Passinault said. “She had some work in her background with adolescents who had psychological issues. In today’s day and age with all the issues with young people and mental health we feel like that’s a major part of the job.”

A requirement of utmost importance to the administration was to find someone with experience. It was important for the staff that we have a counselor who would be best able to help students on their high school journey.

“One of the big things was her experience working in Grand Rapids Public schools and the diversity of the student body that she worked with,” Passinault said. “We thought that was going to be a good fit with our team of counselors– having someone who has had that experience with students of low income, diversity in terms of cultural background, and diversity with learning styles and disabilities.

Not only did Young seem to be a great fit for the school, but it’s a great fit for her, too.

“I love the kids in my old district, but I was also looking for a family,” Young said. “I know from friends who have gone here in the past that Forest Hills is a family. So you’re going to feel like part of the family with who you work with and with the students you work with and the families that you work with. That sounded really appealing to me.”

Although it’s only been two weeks, it seems that Young is already finding that family atmosphere she was searching for. However, because FHC is so much like a family, being the newest member will certainly have its challenges, all of which Young is more than happy to face head-on and conquer.

“[I love] being able to build relationships and communicate with students and parents; those end up being some of my strongest relationships,” Young said. “I may get yelled at the first few weeks, but eventually I think people will realize, ‘Hey she knows what she’s doing.’ So my favorite part is just building those relationships and getting people who may not like me at first to come around and like me in the end. It’s fun for me; people are fun for me; being social is fun for me.”

Young’s arrival won’t just be a challenge for her though. As tough as it is to be the newcomer, it’s just as hard to be a student getting a new counselor, especially for upperclassmen.

“Junior year is usually the year that counselors are the most important,” junior John Courcy said, “so it’s unfortunate that the only one that I actually knew left. I guess it might just be a struggle to get to know a brand new counselor in only two years.”

While there is a level of questioning and wondering and doubting, some students remain optimistic, trusting that Young will not only reach but surpass the standards expected of our FHC staff.

“I have yet to meet her,” junior Jasmine Dawson said. “For me, I never really had problems with my schedule or other things in the last two years, but when I did, Mr. Bolhuis was a big help. So it will be interesting to meet her and see how helpful she will be.”

It may have only been two weeks, there may still be some speculation, but there is certainly no doubt that Young is happy to be here. And we’re happy to have her.

“I love it,” Young said. “I think the other counselors are cracking up because every day I’m like, ‘seriously, there’s nothing else you want me to do right now? Seriously, you don’t want me to do fifty-four things right now?’ I absolutely love it. I’ve gotten a couple of t-shirts already so I’m excited for the football game this weekend and just getting back to being part of a family. I absolutely love it.”