Attendance Awareness Month leaves many students upset

Some students feel there is an absence of promotion for Suicide Prevention Awareness Month


Sienna Reinders

A billboard outside Carlmont’s senior parking lot promotes Attendance Awareness Month.

The month of September has brought an emphasis on Attendance Awareness Month and a lack of acknowledgment for Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, creating frustration among students.

Attendance Awareness Month is a district initiative created to remind students and families of the importance of attending school.

“They’re trying to boost attendance rates, and I guess what they hope to accomplish by Attendance Awareness Month is better academic performance from students,” said senior Areg Horoupian.

National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month started in 2008 to raise awareness and acknowledge those affected by suicide. It is also an opportunity to emphasize resources for people struggling with suicidal thoughts.

The Sequoia Union School District has stressed the importance of attending school this month by announcing Attendance Awareness Month at a board meeting, posting on both the school and district websites, putting up flyers, and displaying the words “September is Attendance Awareness Month” on the sign outside of Carlmont. However, their lack of promotion of suicide awareness has annoyed some students.

“I’ve seen them do nothing [to promote Suicide Prevention Awareness Month]. I think they should be giving [Suicide Prevention Awareness Month] equal attention to Attendance Awareness Month, if not more,” said junior Sam Dechaine. 

As far as suicide awareness goes, the district has done “nothing systematic” to promote it, according to principal Gay Buckland-Murray. 

Many students believe the two topics coincide and awareness should be equally promoted for both. 

“In a way, they’re kind of similar. Both of them are saying ‘we want students to be here,’ but one is just saying like be here no matter what, and the other is saying ‘be here when you can be here and we want to help you when you can’t be here,’” Dechaine said. “One of them is actually supporting students and the other is almost guilt tripping students and making them feel bad for not being at school.”

The school district is pushing for higher attendance rates to improve academic performance, however, because of the myriad of mental health issues that teens are facing, they will likely not perform well despite whether they go to school or not, according to Horoupian. 

Carlmont does provide mental health help with a large number of counselors and mental health specialists, however.

Currently nine counselors are 1st level, a mental health specialist and intervention counselor are 2nd and 3rd level supports, [and] finally, we have mental health counselors available Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings.  Thanks to a generous donation from [the Carlmont Academic Foundation] (CAF), this will soon increase to daily,” Buckland-Murray said in an email statement.

Even still, students believe the school needs to improve its promotion of these resources to make them more easily available and more known to students. 

In the future, students hope to see the district prioritize students’ mental health more by providing easy access to mental health resources and making it easier for students to catch up who might have to miss school for mental health reasons, as well as promoting topics such as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. 

“It honestly irks me because I feel like the school should be more worried about educating students about suicide,” said junior Marlo Lewis. “Obviously, good attendance is important, but I think if they want to promote attendance awareness month they also need to promote Suicide [Prevention] Awareness Month.”