SCOTT TOWNSHIP -- One Lackawanna County school is being recognized for having the best counseling program in Pennsylvania.
The Student Assistance Program is a team of educators and other administrators. Together, they work with students who are at risk of issues involving drugs and alcohol or mental illness. Every school in the state has the program, but Lakeland Junior-Senior High School's is being recognized as the best.
"We're Northeastern PA. So it's nice to have the light shining on Northeast PA. Statewide, I think that's important," Lakeland Junior-Senior High School counselor Dawn deQuevedo said.
The SAP program was awarded best in the state in the secondary school division at a special ceremony Sunday night in State College.
"This is a real behind-the-scenes group that we're part of. So it's not something you're going to be publicly acknowledged for. Really, the result of everything that we do is for the students and for the benefit of our school district," deQuevedo said.
SAP is a confidential program whose team members work with students who are at risk of drugs and alcohol or mental illness.
"The team gets together to help address those issues and make connections with those students and their families to outside agencies so that they can get some help to overcome those barriers," Lakeland Elementary Principal James Pivirotto said.
Every school in the state of Pennsylvania has a Student Assistance Program. In the Lakeland School District, nine teachers, counselors, officers and other administrators make up the SAP team.
"I think it's a great resource to have. Knowing that your faculty and your teachers are looking out for anyone to see if they're in trouble or struggling," senior Annie Yurgosky said.
The team found out they were nominated for the award about six weeks ago. After the Parkland, Florida school shootings, they think it is timely and appropriate to be talking about the resources the program offers.
"We need students to know there are other outlets and other venues they can take besides violence," deQuevedo said.
"To bring that to the forefront a little bit and recognize that there are people in schools addressing mental health issues and helping families and kids," Pivirotto added.
The Lakeland School District was able to send all of the team members to State College Sunday night to accept the award. They returned to school with a warm welcome from proud students and faculty.