College Counseling moves to Lower Division Building 


Sammy Matays , Staff Writer

This August, the College Counseling Department (CoCo) moved from Pforzheimer Hall to a temporary building on the Lower Division (LD) campus. Once their new building next to the Business Office finishes renovations later this year, they will decide whether or not they want to move there.

When Executive Director of CoCo Canh Oxelson started to work at the school 11 years ago, CoCo was  outside the atrium in Rose Hall and had four college counselors, he said. As more counselors joined, the department needed more office space, Oxelson said. “It became clear that with eight counselors, we were going to need our own dedicated building.”

While planning out the building and starting the renovation, CoCo moved to a temporary location on the second floor of Pforzheimer in 2019, Oxelson said. They planned to move into their new building in 2020 after spending one year in the temporary location, but the building was not ready yet, he said.

The main factor that delayed the new building was COVID, Oxelson said. When school closed due to the pandemic in March 2020, construction became difficult. Challenges arose around securing permission for the building to undergo renovations, obtaining the necessary supplies, and finding people to perform the physical labor, Oxelson said.

While CoCo waits for the building to finish renovations by January 2023 or the end of this school year at the latest, they moved into a building on the LD campus where Summer on the Hill (SOH) was previously located. Now that CoCo is occupying SOH’s space, SOH will move into CoCo’s previous Phorzheimer office. Even though SOH performs its enrichment work over the summer, the program still utilizes classroom spaces in the school and needs an office, Oxelson said.

CoCo will remain in their LD location until at least halfway through the school year, Oxelson said. “The plan is to be [in the LD] temporarily until the house next to the Business Office is completed,” he said. “At that point we will make a decision as to whether or not we will stay here or go to that new space.”

The new building excites Oxelson because of the many advantages the space offers, he said. Counselors’ offices will, for the most part, be on the same floor to allow for collaboration, Oxelson said. In the old configuration in Pforzheimer, all of the offices were on the same floor but were not physically connected, which made it more difficult to communicate. 

Another advantage to the new building is the larger offices that will make meetings with parents and students more comfortable, he said. The new offices will also have large televisions to show students and parents specific data during meetings, Oxelson said. Additionally, the building will feature a full kitchen. “You can create a more home kind of feeling when you can provide food for teenagers,” he said.

Associate Director of College Counseling Jennie Kim said she is excited to use the kitchen to bake goods and provide real snacks to the students. CoCo having their own space will hopefully invite seniors to visit their office more often, she said. 

The new building will feature a lounge area to make the CoCo a more casual and inviting space for students, Oxelson said. The goal is for them to stop by the office to hang out, do homework, grab a snack, or even hit a golf ball, he said. That being said, Oxelson worries about not being on the main part of campus because the far distance might disincentivize students from stopping by the office when they do not have an appointment.

“The thing that I am most excited about is the CoCo being a gathering space for the seniors the way it used to be in our old space,” Senior Associate Director of CoCo Kaitlin Howrigan said. The Pforzheimer offices lacked the inviting and casual feel that the CoCo used to have, so the move into the new building will be the perfect opportunity to recreate that environment, she said.

The CoCo will try to create a calmness in the new building that is essential for students as they think about the big opportunities ahead of them, Howrigan said. “We’re so excited to decorate the place and make the space a welcoming home.”