Counseling Events and Programs

Planning Your Future Day

Planning Your Future Day is an opportunity for 4th grade students to begin thinking about what it means to be successful. Students are exposed to a variety of guest speakers in hopes that they will be inspired to set personal goals and then put in the hard work needed to achieve those goals. The transition from elementary school to middle school is a perfect time to help our students to begin thinking about taking personal responsibility for the future and the successes they are capable of achieving. Guest speakers typically include:

  1. 1-2 South Lewis graduates
  2. High School student panel (High School Counselors: Mrs. Burmingham and Mrs. Green)
  3. College representatives


(concept and lesson materials adapted from: http://www.challengeday.org/)

What is challenge day?

Challenge day is an opportunity for students to explore what bullying is and how it affects others. Through open sharing, 4th grade students have an opportunity to talk about personal experiences with feeling different and/or alone. They may also have an opportunity to talk about a time that they hurt someone else’s feelings, or about a time when it happened to them.

Though the initial focus is to provide education about bullying, Challenge Day is also intended to create a sense of openness, honesty, compassion, tolerance/acceptance, cohesion, and empathy among this group of students. They are asked to think about what it is like to be the victim as well as the bully, and then students are challenged to “BE THE CHANGE.” It is important for students to know that they can make a change in their social environment by making positive choices. Examining one's own actions is a great way to "BE THE CHANGE." Once a student can identify how the problem of bullying effects them and how they have participated in the problem, they can begin the process of being a "bucket filler" and leading others in that positive example, while trying not to be a "bucket dipper."

At the end of Challenge Day, students learn about the “Formula for Change.” Each student then has the opportunity to sign the Challenge Day pledge and decide whether or not they accept the challenge to "BE THE CHANGE." We hope that the lessons learned at Challenge Day will help our students to continue making positive gains socially and academically.


1. Stop living below “the waterline.” Do not be afraid to be who you really are!


2. Challenge yourself to notice the thoughts and behaviors that prevent you from being a respectful, tolerant, and bucket filling member of your school.

3. CHANGE THEM! Now that you have accepted the challenge, it is up to you to use the Formula for Change every day to make yourself and your school a better place.

Formula for change: NOTICE-CHOOSE-ACT


  • Do you like the way things are?
  • Are there things that need to change to create a better community?


  • In your greatest vision for yourself, and your school, how do you want things to be?


  • Take action- have the courage and commitment to be the CHANGE! Set an example for others.
  • “Be the change you wish to see in this world.” - Gandhi 
  • Use the formula to do at least one intentional act of change EVERY day.

** Please visit challengeday.org to learn more about this program **


Falcon Friends is an exciting program at South Lewis that provides a positive learning experience for elementary students at Glenfield and Port Leyden. The goal of this program is to facilitate a mentor-like relationship between an elementary student and a positive role model from South Lewis High School. Through this relationship, students engage in activities that encourage self-esteem, self-confidence, goal-setting, literacy, character building, and friendship skills.

High School students travel once a month, with High School Counselor Julie Burmingham, to visit both elementary buildings. During the monthly meetings, students get a chance to get to know each other through friendly conversation and structured activities. So far, our “bigs” and “littles” have done some really neat things together. They have read the book “Have You Filled A Bucket Today?” and engaged in discussion about what it means to be a kind and caring person. They have done a St. Patty's Day treasure hunt using the code scanner app on iPads and iPhones. Students have taken whole meetings to read stories to each other in the library, play on the playground, and enjoy board games together. Through out the years they have worked on some art projects including homemade ornaments and Valentine's for each other and for elderly in the community. They have played many games together including some fun, interactive ice breaker games like human bingo, the human knot, and the balloon game. Twice a year they come to the High School for dinner and to enjoy the middle and high school musical productions. We do so many fun things together that it seems that both the "bigs" and "littles" gain so much for their participation in the program.

KIDSKAMP/Challenge Week

KIDSKAMP is a week long summer program in August, available to South Lewis students entering fifth grade. Challenge Week is a similar program offered the following week to incoming eighth grade students. The KIDSKAMP /Challenge Week summer program started during the summer of 1999, thanks to now retired Elementary School Counselor, Mr. Bob Newberry. The tradition of KIDSKAMP/Challenge Week continues as the South Lewis School District values opportunities for our students to engage in the process of self-discovery and planning for the future.

Many exciting activities and trips are planned through-out the week long event to inspire and motivate our students. Both groups of students visit Beaver Camp ( www.beavercamp.org), where the students spend the day on the ropes Course exploring the lower and higher elements. Students often find this day to be the most exciting of the week. Students always find that there are many important life lessons to be learned on the ropes course: the importance of teamwork, effective communication, perseverance, facing fears, and overcoming obstacles. The primary reason to take students through the ropes Course during KIDSKAMP/Challenge Week is to teach them that life is full of many challenges and adversities. We encourage our students to understand that challenges are meant to be faced head on, and that with hard work and determination anything is possible.

Our students also visit college campuses during the course of the week. This is a great opportunity to expose our students to post secondary education options. These visits are usually facilitated by campus staff and college students who conduct tours and activities meant to get our students interested in higher learning. Our KIDSKAMP students visit Hamilton College in Clinton, NY ( www.hamilton.edu ) . Every year, Ms. Phyllis Breland and her assistant Wilfred Jackson put together a wonderful visit complete with a presentation about dreaming big for the future, a campus tour, and an exciting visit to the all you can eat buffet in the dining hall. Students attending Challenge Week routinely visit St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY(www.stlawu.edu ). This year, students went to Colgate University in Hamilton, and enjoyed a wonderfully interactive tour and all the pizza they could eat in the campus dining hall. Colgate was even kind enough to give a Colgate t-shirt to every student. So many of our kids shared that the visit really got them thinking about college as a future option.

On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of each week guest speakers come to talk to the students about the importance of having and accomplishing goals and dreams. We have had Kylie Simpson from Mountain View Prevention Services talk about her half marathon training. Ed Steckly, former Student Assistance Counselor, talks with our students annually, and gives them an inspirational message to carry through the weeks events. Mr. Christopher Villiere, Port Leyden Principal, shared a motivational lesson on Growth Mindset with our 8th grade students to help them think about how mindset and attitude determine future successes. Mr. Lee Vance came this year to share his work on mindfulness, to help our students to think more about getting the most of their time in the classroom.

We also invite speakers to share about overcoming significant obstacles and challenges in and out of school. Heidi Abbey, Rebecca Garner, Sgt. Jesse Steele (retired ARMY), Olivia Kriwox, and Connor McGough are a few of our past guests. In addition to speakers, the students see great motivational movies like "The Blind Side," "Front of the Class," or "Hoovey" to continue thinking about how we must have a positive orientation to adversity.

Before each week is over, students are encouraged to talk about goals for the upcoming school year, how they will overcome obstacles they may face, and dreams/goals for the future.

*** Only 25 students from each grade will be able to participate so students are encouraged to apply ASAP if they are interested in attending.

Random Acts of Kindness Week

Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Week is an event that occurs in late January/early February each year to help students consciously practice being caring and compassionate. This week coincides with classroom guidance lessons related to "Bucket Filling" (Carol McCloud), empathy, self-esteem, friendship, and caring/kindness.

Every year, students are challenged to perform RAK's for each other, and compete against one another.

Red Ribbon Week

Traditionally held in October, Red Ribbon Week is a nationally celebrated week meant to raise awareness of the dangers of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and violence. Our elementary schools will celebrate this prevention initiative each year in the month of March or April. We have some great activities planned to help raise awareness in our students. Included above, is a sample list of events that will be take place for these five days. Each year we have an overall theme like "Drug Free is a Healthy Me," and then a daily theme complete with a participation activity. We hope to gets lots of classroom participation from our students, and that it inspires them to remember the value in making good life choices. School staff, parents, and family members can help students make these messages permanent, by initiating conversations with children about how important it is to make good life choices, so that he/she can have a successful future. Let's show our South Lewis pride by celebrating Red Ribbon Week in March!

Theme: “Drug Free, is a Healthy Me”

Monday 25-30 Minute assembly about making healthy life choices. (Cornell Cooperative Extension) - Earn points: Students will be asked to wear red

- All students get a RRW Ribbon to wear throughout the week

Tuesday “Drug Free is a Healthy Me.” - Earn points: Bring in fruits or vegetables for a snack. - Earn points today for wearing your Red Ribbon

Classes take turns signing the drug free pledge (in the cafeteria)

Wednesday “Be On A Drug Free Team” - Earn points: Wear your favorite team gear - Earn points today for wearing your Red Ribbon

- Pictures in the cafeteria of students in sports jerseys.

- 2:50 dance party over the loud speaker to emphasize how playing sports and exercising is a healthy choice

Thursday “Reading a Book is a Healthy Look” – students participate in 20 minutes of reading after announcements - Earn points: bring a book from home or from your last library book exchange to read. - Earn points today for wearing your Red Ribbon

- Students get a red ribbon sticker in the cafeteria if they bring a book to read after they eat!

Friday “Drug Free Means a Successful Me” - - Earn points: dress up as your future job or career interest. Poster contest winners announced Friday afternoon/Monday morning

Classroom points winner announced Friday afternoon/Monday morning

  • 3rd and 4th grade students will be challenged to write a short essay with the theme “Drug Free is a Healthy Me.” Winners will earn a prize and recognition at the next character counts assembly.
  • K-2 will be asked to participate in a “Healthy Choices” poster contest. Winners will earn a prize and recognition at the next character counts assembly.
  • All week long teachers will keep track of how many students participate in each event- these will be points. In addition, a classroom can earn extra points each day a student wears his/her red ribbon to school during Red Ribbon Week. The classroom in each building with the most points will get a prize.

First Annual Elementary Career Fair

The first annual Career Fair was held at the end of June 2017. One of the goals of the School Counseling Program at South Lewis is to provide many opportunities for students to dream big and know that the world has many opportunities awaiting. Exposing students to a variety of traditional and non-traditional careers at a young age, helps facilitate a positive attitude toward learning, achieving, and the world of work.

Students completed a short, developmentally appropriate career interest inventory to help them figure out which 3 of the 16 Career Clusters contained career paths that may be of interest to them. Later in June, Kindergarten and First Grade students (with the assistance of Fourth Grade helpers), used the results of that inventory to explore the 16 Career Clusters at the career fair.