Speak up, reach out app remains available

Counseling department encourages use of software

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Screen capture

A screen capture from an iPad shows the interface of the app.

Tory Basile, Reporter

For many high school students, self-advocacy in any situation can be daunting, especially if the situation is serious. For this reason, the counseling department created the “Speak Up and Reach Out” app for use on the Hill. 

Over a year after its release, Director of Counseling Mrs. Gretchen Watko ‘00 detailed her thoughts on the app, its use and progress. 

Watko said that the counseling department implemented the app, she said, “After doing some research and learning from other schools who use a similar form for confidential student reporting.” Essentially, the app acts as a link for students to access a Google form, in which they will be able to fill out details of an event that has caused them concern to the counseling department easily and confidentially. 

Watko described the app as being “a tool for students to utilize to share concerns for themselves or other students. The goal of the app is to empower students to help one another and refer those who need help. In accordance with our Holy Cross mission, Cathedral students are called to be one family and help each other in times of need.” 

Watko said that the app, which ensures students’ identities remain confidential from other parties involved in whatever situation they may report, “allows students to help be a transformative force for their peers by speaking up and reaching out to an adult. By empowering students to care for their classmates as their own family, the students will be making adults aware of those who need extra support or positive interventions.”

Some examples Watko provided in which students might use the app include concerns for one’s own or others’ mental health, physical or verbal harassment, signs of abuse, substance abuse issues, cyber bullying and an array of other issues.

Watko said, “The app has been consistently used for its intended purpose, which is a good thing. We want to make sure students know what it is, how to access, and how to use it, and so far each of the reports we have received have had good outcomes with the follow up that was provided by school staff.”

As for the future of the app, Watko said, “I think the app has been effective and helpful. I think we need to do a better job of reminding students about it and making sure students know how to find it. The app is not the only means for students to report something to the school in a confidential manner. Students can always confide in a school counselor or a trusted adult, but when starting that conversation might be hard, the Speak Up and Reach Out app is a useful alternative.”

All students have access to the app on their iPads.