Trail cleanup, chicken hatching & the importance of keeping routines

Counselor reaches out to students, works with kids at home

Dani, left, and Brynlee Boudro collected six bags of trash during Dad’s pickup challenge the first week of the stay-home order (courtesy photo)

Midway through the second week of state (and much of the world) -wide hunkering down and physical distancing, Lowell High School counselor RJ Boudro and his wife, Kelli, and their four daughters were still getting their for-now normal footing.

Who’s with him at home: Kelli still goes to her job as a labor and delivery nurse. Dani, 8, is in second grade at Cherry Creek Elementary; Brynlee, 6, is in kindergarten at Bushnell Elementary; Lexi is 3; and Carlee, 14 months.

From left: Lexi, Dani and Brynlee Boudro with their new hobby since the stay-home order: hatching chickens (courtesy photo)

Remote work: Boudro and the high school’s two other counseling staff have been trying to reach out to their approximately 400 assigned students each in grades 9-12 via social media, and to encourage them on the school’s counseling web page to contact them via email. Counselor Nicole Deckrow posted a video to let students know about resources for social and emotional needs that were previously being met at school. Boudro said his team also is in contact with school counselors in area districts about other ways to reach out and provide resources.

“It’s crazy how much I miss them,” Boudro said of students. “I really wish I could just be standing in the hallway again and see all of them. They are why I love my job so much.”

Right now, he said, he typically is meeting face-to-face with juniors about their senior year schedules, and fielding questions about college applications and  transcripts. Though he is getting a few questions via email, “That’s in a bit of a holding pattern for now,” he said, “I wish there was more I could do, (but) I have a lot faith in our administration. (Superintendent Greg Pratt) and his team are really strong, Lowell is in a good spot.”

His message to seniors: “I am sad for them, and at the same time I know they are going to get through this. The discipline and independence that it’s going to take to develop and stick to routines is something they will carry with them through the rest of their lives.

“I’m looking forward to getting together with our administrators to come up with how we can give them the traditions they deserve.

“This might be kinda cheesy, but I would remind them of our slogan [Learners today, leaders tomorrow, Red Arrows for life]. It’s an awesome slogan and it’s very truthful, for the seniors now especially.”

Brynlee Boudro proudly displays a letter that came in the U.S. mail for her from Bushnell Elementary teacher Kate Henige (courtesy photo)

On adjusting routines, and keeping some important ones: Boudro normally is up, out of the house and at school before the rest of his family finishes their morning routine. Now, he said, he gets to be a part of that.

“We get them up and dressed, their hair brushed and breakfast, just like a normal day. Then, using (learning) resources teachers have given us, they spend 1-2 hours working on that. We usually eat lunch together, and do a lot of outside things, too.”

‘It’s crazy how much I miss them. They are why I love my job so much.’

— Lowell High School counselor RJ Boudro on his students

On doing school, with baby chicks: The Boudro girls use IXL, an online math, language arts, science, and social studies program for elementary students that can be used at school and at home. RJ said he tapped a family member who keeps chickens and they are now incubating eggs. “That’s been our science project,” he said.

On acknowledging disappointment and encouraging resilience: “They definitely miss school and their teachers,” Boudro said of his daughters. “But their teachers sent them notes, and the girls got super excited when the mail came.

“We’re just telling them that this is something nobody has ever experienced before, that this isn’t normal, but that they will go back to school and we will get through this by being team players and by staying home.

“The biggest thing is we’re trying to stay positive. Every day is a blessing.”

The Boudro family enjoys hot-tub time: from left, RJ Boudro, daughter Dani, wife Kelli holding baby Carlee; and daughters Lexi (with doll) and Brynlee (courtesy photo)
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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.

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