New Advisory program hopes to build community throughout St. Pius X


Staff photo

Students in Advisory 50 prepare to discuss the harmful side effects of social media and the Internet. Replacing homeroom, Advisories include students from all grades and help foster community within our school.

Chloe Dierkes, Staff Writer

In an effort to strengthen our school community and promote unity among teachers and classmates, St. Pius X introduced a brand new program this year called Advisory.  There are 56 Advisories, each with two faculty and staff members and about 20 students from all four grade levels. 

Taking the place of homeroom, Advisory meets once a week on Fridays for 25 minutes, and this time is used to teach life skills and discuss timely issues affecting students in and out of school. 

Latin teacher Ms. Laura Briscoe originally came up with the idea for Advisory a few years ago and worked with administration over the summer to help implement the program.

Because so many students come to St. Pius without knowing anyone, she wanted to create a home for them the second they stepped onto campus. 

“Here, we have kids coming from 40 to 50 different schools, and it’s a really big transition socially for people to make,” Ms. Briscoe said. 

To help foster a sense of community, students and teachers will remain with their Advisories throughout their time at St. Pius. 

“So the idea is that when you’re a freshman that you would come in and be new and that the older kids would help you out even if they’re not necessarily a Lion Leader or on Student Council,” Ms. Briscoe explained. “And then as you grow up, you would take on that role with the new kids that come in every year.”

“I like the consistency that it’s going to provide,” Math teacher Mrs. Katie Stilson added. “You’ll have the same kids year after year.”

Junior Ellie Ballew agreed. “In ways it can help the younger students get to know people in other grades. [Hopefully] the freshmen and new students feel comfortable coming to us with any questions,” she said.

Freshman Katherine Euart said she’s already benefiting from it. 

“I have friends who are in grades above me. I never would have met them if it wasn’t for Advisory. They always wave to me in the hallways and it helps me to feel like I belong,” she said. 

Although the idea of a class like Advisory has been in the works for years, it is especially important in the midst of a life-changing pandemic. 

“We’re still kind of fragmented,” Ms. Briscoe explained. “And if you’re full time virtual, or you’ve had to be out because of quarantining, it feels even more fragmented. So I think it’s really important to give people a weekly home base.” 

Whereas homeroom was simply a collection place to distribute information or gather before dispersing to assemblies, Advisory is a time slot focused on helping students. 

Everyone completed a survey on the first day of school about potential topics that they thought would be the most beneficial, and Ms. Briscoe used the results to plan the first few weeks of Advisory. Overwhelmingly, students said they wanted help with time management, something that teenagers struggle with as they try to balance academics, extracurricular activities, and a social life. 

Sophomore Chris Garcia said, “There was never really a time I had dedicated to trying to improve my work habits. The time management presentations during Advisory gave me a chance to learn about how I can improve my time management.”

In September, the Advisory time was used to listen to Mr. David Flood, a motivational speaker presented by the Home and School Board. He encouraged students to spread love to others. Because he wasn’t able to be physically present on campus due to Covid restrictions, Mr. Flood recorded his talk that students watched over three weeks. 

“I liked his compassionate message about spreading kindness to everyone, even if they are different than you,” sophomore Ava Godbey said.

Starting the week of October 19 with the full population return to school, Advisories began meeting in person. Some students feel that social distancing and wearing masks are barriers that are keeping them from getting to know each other, but some ways to stay engaged are to do ice breakers and other fun activities. Overall, students will get out what they put into Advisory.

Students are encouraged to share any ideas for upcoming Advisories with their teachers, or you can email Ms. Briscoe or the Advisory group.