Counselors play key role for upcoming graduates

Published 10:32 am Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Joe Ott is right in the middle of it.

As graduation gets closer, he plays a lead role in making sure students have enough credits to graduate, making sure transcripts are sent out to prospective colleges and making sure students have everything they need when it comes to applying for scholarships.

Ott has been a guidance counselor at Austin High School for roughly two decades as another class graduates Friday at Riverside Arena.

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“I do wonder every time I run a batch through, what the world will have in store for them,” he said.

Ott said that over the years some things have changed, while others have stayed the same.

He said the biggest change he’s seen is the decrease in the amount of students who are being raised by both parents.

Friday at Riverside Arena, 7 p.m.

“Many students had both,” he said. “I don’t see that as much. There’s maybe one parent, maybe a grandparent, an aunt, an uncle, or a stepfather who’s the guardian. Fifteen or 20 years ago, you’d see more of both parents.”

Ott’s job at the high school keeps him busy all-year long. He works with students and sometimes students, parents and teachers, helps explain electives and is there when a student needs him. He’s one of two guidance counselors at the high school who work with 600 students apiece.

“I’d like to go three or four more years,” he said. “A number of the parents I deal with now I had in high school,” he said.

As for his advice to this year’s Class of 2009, he emphasized the importance of making good choices.

“We all come from avenues and different ways of life, some good and some not so good, but we still have choices to make,” he said.

He also added that failure can sometimes be a good thing.

“I think some of the greatest people in history would say they had to fail to succeed,” he said.