St. Margaret’s Roland Allen Offers College Counseling to Northern California Students Impacted By Wildfires

After wildfires devastated the Northern California city of Santa Rosa, the Santa Rosa City Schools administrators reached out through a professional college counseling group asking for assistance at its upcoming college event. St. Margaret’s Director of College Counseling Roland Allen felt compelled to serve and lend his expertise.  

Santa Rosa and students attending the city’s five high schools were picking up the pieces after the fires destroyed much of the town in October. As a result, many seniors were behind in the college application process during this critical year and needed help catching up, and many counselors and teachers were delayed in writing recommendation letters.

Mr. Allen traveled to Santa Rosa last week to attend the district’s “Community Cares College App Night,” where he counseled students on their college applications, essays, school research and more.

In addition, he worked with Santa Rosa’s administrators on developing a strategy and messaging for counselors and teachers who are reaching out to colleges to explain their students’ unusual situations due to the fires.

The campus of Cardinal Newman High in Santa Rosa was destroyed by the fires, and classes have been spread all over the city. At Santa Rosa High School, more than 120 families and nine faculty members lost their homes in the fires.

Mr. Allen took time to survey the devastation caused by the fires. “It wasn’t hard to find,” he said. “It was what ‘losing everything’ looks like. I saw a city worker replacing street signs in a neighborhood where not a single house stood.”

Upon returning to St. Margaret’s, Mr. Allen reflected on the trip with his grade 9 advisory, sharing the realities the Santa Rosa community is facing and exploring different ways people can serve others during times of need.

“I’m grateful to be at a place like St. Margaret’s where service is a pillar of our mission and where we are encouraged to reach out when we see opportunities to help,” Mr. Allen said.
 
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An independent preschool through grade 12 college-preparatory day school in Orange County, California