Hidden support at Carlmont

Students lost in the crowd receive aid


Rachel Matatyaou

Due to the sheer number of students at Carlmont, it is easy for some to get lost in the crowd.

Most students know her as the woman at the front desk helping with the bus schedule or locker difficulties. But to 18 Carlmont students, she is so much more. 

Terri Plack assists students in need and is a go-between person for various programs set up at Carlmont, such as the Pantry and Carlmont Cares. 

“Kids are not able to think and focus on schoolwork if their basic needs aren’t being met. I feel like it is my mission in life to make sure that all kids have their basic needs met, and from there, then we can support them to think about learning,” Plack said. “Otherwise, it’s hard for them to come to school and focus on an algebra test.” 

The Pantry is a program at Carlmont that provides students with free access to school supplies, snacks, hygiene products, and new clothing. All resources are donated by Carlmont parents and community members, and as of late, the program is receiving large amounts of donations. 

In addition, Plack also helps organize the Carlmont Cares Program in conjunction with Access Commission, a sub-commission of ASB’s Service Council. Carlmont Cares supports English language learners, foster, and homeless students at Carlmont.

Because the 2019-2020 school year is Access Commission’s second year of existence, they are developing the program daily. This commission was set in place to help students step out of their comfort zone, whether it be socially, academically, or financially. And, with the main goal of ASB being to engage students beyond academics, their goal is being achieved.

I feel like it is my mission in life to make sure that all kids have their basic needs met, and from there, then we can support them to think about learning”

— Secretary Terri Plack

“Three years ago, we expanded Human Relations Commission and spent the summer planning. Lucy Perone, a 2019 graduate, spearheaded the whole program and gave us the direction of Carlmont Cares,” said Access Commission facilitator, Ayan Dixit.

Carlmont Cares ensures that all students feel safe and comfortable by keeping their identity hidden; Access Commission doesn’t know any names of the Carlmont students they’re helping. Access Commission, Plack, and ASB adviser, Jim Kelly, make it a priority to respect the privacy of all students involved, and that’s where Plack comes in the picture.

Plack works one-on-one with students and Access Commission to ensure they’re receiving adequate support based upon their individual needs. For instance, Carlmont Cares provides back to school packages, bus passes, free and reduced lunches, as well as prom and homecoming accessories.

“One of the girls came up to me at prom and tapped me on the back. She had on a dress that she got from here, she had on shoes, her hair was done, and she had on a corsage. Everything was done, and everything was provided by ASB; it was like Cinderella,” Plack said.

While Carlmont Cares’ main goal is to ensure students have what they need in order to be successful, it has had some other long-lasting impacts as well. Students receiving support develop a close relationship with Plack, as she creates a safe and comfortable environment for them at school.

An anonymous student in the English Language program said, “It makes me feel really special because they don’t forget about me. I would like to say thank you so much for making me feel better. It helps me feel less stress at school and I most of all, feel special.”