Counselors working hard behind the scenes


Olivia Wilson sorts through some of the schedule requests she has gotten with the new semester. Photo by Jasmine Schmidt.

School counselors are indispensable to their community. Olivia Wilson, a Lewiston High School counselor, and Sydni Gormsen, a Clarkston High School counselor, are prime examples of effective and compassionate counselors.
Wilson and Gormsen are both the newest additions to the counseling team at their respective schools and are using their position to help students grow and succeed.
There are many roles for a school counselor, and every day looks different. “One thing I love about this job is we come in and don’t have a set routine,” said Gormsen.
Wilson also enjoys the variety that comes with her job. “I kind of have an idea for how I want my day to go when I first get here but you might get caught up with something entirely different than what you planned on doing that day,” Wilson said.
The first and most important role is being available to students who need help. They may run support groups or help find resources for those needing them, or they may just meet one-on-one with someone.
“Really the main thing is providing support to students, to make sure that they are being able to do what they need to do and reach those goals that they want to reach,” said Gormsen.
Students are able to go to their counselor’s office at any time. School counselors are available to provide personal, social and emotional counseling, as well as academic and career counseling.
“One thing I’ve noticed and want to praise our students on is their ability to really self-advocate for themselves. Our students are really good at making sure when they need help they are asking for help or coming in and getting help or trying to find the answers that they need,” said Gormsen.
Students may have trouble keeping up with classes, struggle with balancing work and school or even find themselves in a difficult situation and want to talk it through. No matter what, school counselors are able to support students. They are educated and qualified to find solutions to challenges.
One of Wilson’s favorite tools she likes to use with students who are overwhelmed is writing down everything that is affecting them. “Get it out on paper,” Wilson said. She knows that writing down everything stressing out students helps them organize their responsibilities and adds a little bit more structure to their lives.
Wilson also acknowledges the use of humor to benefit students. “I love the personality of high school students. They’re hilarious, and they understand sarcasm. You can use that a lot in counseling… you can use humor in counseling to get people through their day.”
“The biggest thing is, if you are struggling, ask for help,” said Gormsen. “Sometimes it can feel weird to open up and ask for help, but in the end, you will feel better.” If a student doesn’t want to talk to a counselor, Gormsen advises talking to a trusted adult, whether it is a teacher or someone else. Even if it is something small, school staff is there to support students.
Ultimately, a counselor’s goal is to give a student the resources and abilities to conquer struggles on their own, as well as give them skills that will benefit them for a lifetime. “I’m not here to solve their problems. I’m here to help them figure out how to solve their problems,” Wilson said.
Counselors also have some responsibility when it comes to student schedules and ensuring students are taking the classes they need.
At CHS, there are about 730 total students, so each counselor has roughly 240 students on their caseload. The principal makes the original schedules for students, but if a student needs something changed they go to their counselor.
As one of the counselors responsible for scheduling at LHS, Wilson is responsible to check through schedules made by Powerschool for about 350 students throughout the year. Generally, about 200 of the students Wilson checks schedules for ask for a schedule change after schedules are assigned, sometimes due to an error and sometimes due to preference.
Both Wilson and Gormsen appreciate the schools they work at. “I think there is a lot of pride with being an LHS Bengal… just living in this community for the last 10 years, you know who the LHS Bengals are,” said Wilson. Living in a close-knit community means both high schools are well-known and a source of pride for each town.
Working at a high school means Wilson and Gormsen see students in an important stage of life, but they also recognize that there is a lot of life that happens after graduation. “Give yourself some grace and know that high school is not the end-all be-all,” Wilson said.
Gormsen feels similarly. “High school is a tough time, but it gets better. Right now your age and what you’re going through is such a wide range of emotions and things that are happening, but continue to push through and make sure you are focused on your path and what you want to do. Go for what you want.”

LHS Counselor
Olivia Wilson is in her fourth year as a Bengal at LHS.
She got her undergraduate degree in social work from Idaho State University and continued school until she received her master’s degree in social work from Boise State University. After getting her undergraduate degree Wilson worked at a domestic violence shelter. Following her master’s degree, she worked for Upward Bound through Idaho State University. When Wilson moved to Lewiston, she worked for St. Joseph Medical Center as a case manager, primarily with families in obstetrics.
Outside of work, Wilson loves gardening. She grows a flower garden in the summer and sells flowers with her daughter for the cheerleaders. She also loves skiing with her family, camping and other outdoor activities.
To contact Wilson, email [email protected] or call (208)748-3114.

CHS Counselor
Sydni Gormsen is in her fifth year as a school counselor, but this is her first year as a Bantam at CHS.
She became interested in school counseling in her senior year of her undergrad program, when she switched majors. She got her first bachelor of arts in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in communication disorders and psychology. Gormsen then went back to Eastern Washington University and got a second bachelor of arts in children studies with a minor in sociology. After that, she got a master’s in counseling from Oregon State University. After schooling, Gormsen worked at Quincy High School.
Gormsen spends a lot of her free time outdoors. She grew up in Pomeroy, Wash. and enjoys outside activities including boating, snowmobiling, camping and fishing. Her family also likes hunting and spending time in nature.
To contact Gormsen, [email protected] or call (509)769-5517.