MERCED — It may not take a village, but a committee can help raise children.
A group of about a dozen parents of Merced High students met for a second time with counselors and administrators last week to learn the best ways to improve their children's performance.
It's called "Coffee With a Counselor" and the next session likely will be held in late February, said Kay Malhi, Merced High's associate principal for guidance.
The 90-minute sessions not only help parents with tips about raising their sons and daughters but help school staff come up with alternative solutions to many situations.
"I commend you (parents) for your hard work," Malhi said. "Be consistent and keep looking forward. We have all had struggles at some point, but things do improve."
The parent of a 14-year-old girl told how she constantly has to stay on top of her daughter's questionable activities. She conceded it is stressful having to discipline her daughter, who has been associating with criminal street gang members at the school.
Principal John Olson said strong parents can establish reasonable rules. He said students are under severe peer pressure and exercising tough love now will reap benefits later.
Malhi said the "Coffee With a Counselor" sessions are another school strategy to reach out and support parents. Evening meetings have been tried, but the midday sessions have proven extremely successful.
Transportation is provided for some parents.
Parent Trini Castaneda of Merced said many positive things have come out of the meetings with counselors.
"I feel like I've grown personally," Castaneda said. "I like the fact it's personal, and I am able to share with each other our accomplishments and struggles. I'm looking forward to the next meeting and hope this continues on. This is really helpful."
Malhi urged parents to tap into their children's interests and said this could translate into more success at school. She said students are no different than other people -- they want to be respected as well.
Freshman counselor Yer Xiong said she found the session with parents to be powerful because they often come up with their own strategies of getting kids to do well in school.
Fellow freshman counselor Andrea Evans said the discussions have helped families be successful, too. She said the gatherings are an opportunity for parents to talk about their concerns and come up with solutions.
Several parents said they have had to take away cell phones, computers and Internet use, even makeup and hairspray, so their children would do their homework, be more respectful and get better grades.
Joann Ceja, the parent of twin freshman girls, said her daughters value being able to participate in the Marching 100 band and that's an incentive for them to do good in school.
"I love when they have these meetings," Ceja said of Coffee With a Counselor. "It helps out. The meetings gave lots of strategies, and I see I'm going through the same thing."
Olson pointed out that students succeed when they establish a relationship with an adult at school. Students don't want to let that person down and become accountable for their actions.
"The high school experience goes by just like that," Olson said. "It's a process. Things will work out, and they will be better people."
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.