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What to know about a terminal case of 'senioritis'

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Thursday, May 16, 2013, 2:45 p.m.

What is it?

“Senioritis” is the dreaded malady that can affect any high-school senior as he or she begins to see graduation as “the light at the end of the tunnel.” According to Penn Hills resident and Agora Cyber Charter School Guidance Counselor Barron Whited, “it seems like after midterm grades come out, there's the potential for seniors to begin slacking off. They're so focused on prom, senior trips and graduation that they lose track of their grades.”

Time management

Whited, who underwent counseling internships in both the Penn Hills and Franklin Regional school districts, said he stresses time management with his students. “Get organized and STAY organized,” he said, adding that staying on top of schoolwork, even late in the year, is important. “A lot of kids think that once they're accepted (into a college), that letter can't be revoked, but it can,” he said. Schools look at those final grades, too.”


Both Whited and Scott Zemba, senior guidance counselor in the Penn Hills School District, stressed that parents need to stay involved, especially as spring and graduation near. “I think that the students who do better and don't have much of a dropoff (late in their senior year) do have parents who are more involved.”

A group effort

Zemba, who has served as guidance counselor to current Penn Hills seniors since the class was in 10th grade, said staving off senioritis “is a collective effort between guidance staff, principals, teachers and peers.” His methods include grade-tracking for academically troubled students, facilitating parent-teacher meetings and keeping lines of communication open.

Ask for help

Above all, Whited said students should not be afraid to ask for help from staff or their friends. “Sometimes I think that pride gets in the way and a kid thinks, ‘I just can't ask for help,'” he said. “But we have a lot of resources at our disposal.” Zemba agreed: “Senioritis is a different thing for everyone. I think mainly, though, it's influenced by peers.”

Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or

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