Provided by Prince William County Schools (PWCS)
The Office of Student Services partnered with the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services on Aug. 13 to present the annual Office of Student Services Symposium. This partnership started four years ago and highlights the benefits of partnering with outside agencies.
This year’s theme was “The Wizard of OSS,” Achieving Success for All Students: Yellow Brick Road to Building Bridges. Visits from the Lollipop Guild, the Wizard, Dorothy, and even Glinda the Good Witch helped to welcome back staff. Our resident Kansas native, Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Steven L. Walts, left the Wizard a voicemail, wishing everyone a productive start to the school year and encouraging staff to help students follow their yellow brick road to success.
Eight current Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) students from across the county took part in this year’s symposium. Six students from SACC summer camp came to perform as the Lollipop Guild. Sasan Faraj, student representative to the School Board, introduced both speakers. Felicity Gonzalez, Colgan High School, dressed as Dorothy and delivered a powerful message to staff members as they start the new school year.
The first keynote speaker, Mike Veny, shared how to transform stigmas surrounding mental health into strength. Veny spoke with candor about his mental health struggles throughout his life. He gave a unique perspective and discussed what we can do to change the stigma around mental health. Drumming has been a key part to his recovery and his performances energized staff throughout his presentation.
Tori Stone came back to PWCS, where she spent 17 years as a school counselor, to present a keynote address on promoting healthy relationships in schools. Through the use of props and cups, she discussed how different students need different support, but it comes back to helping students feel safe. By developing healthy relationships with students and other staff members, the school environment helps students feel save and thrive.
Carolyn Custard, director of the Office of Student Services stated that “through the courageous web of collaborative care and support, we all find the heart to lend a helping hand, and the knowledge and skills that “connect” the needed services for all students to grow and achieve success.”