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Counseling Department

About: The South St. Paul Counseling Program is a cooperative effort involving students, staff, parents, and the community.  Mr. Paulson and Mrs. Atkinson are available to assist students in the following areas:
  • Education Planning
  • Career Planning 
  • Decision Making 
  • Academic Counseling 
  • Personal and Social Growth 
  • Individual or Small Group Counseling 
  • Parent and Teacher Consultations 
  • Referral Assistance to Other Programs 
  • Other Areas as Needed
Meet the Counselors:
Mitchel Paulson, MS, LPC- Grades 9-12 School Counselor
Phone:  651.457.9487

Being from Wisconsin, it seemed only natural to join a team of Packers. I earned my Master's Degree from Winona State University and am a licensed K-12 School Counselor and a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the state of Minnesota.  This is my second year at South St. Paul and I am thoroughly amazed at the quality of our students and the support of our community.  Outside of school, I have a private therapy practice where I provide individual and family therapy to clients and I spend a lot of time making music. Prior to joining the Packer family, I worked in the Rochester and Red Wing school districts. 

Please feel free to contact me at any time.  I'm always available to talk with students and families about academics, personal/social concerns, career and post-secondary exploration, chemical health concerns, community resources, music, tattoos, sports, or how to ramble on when writing a personal bio for the school webpage.  

Take care of each other.  Go Pack!

Cherie Atkinson, MS- Grades 6-8 School Counselor
Phone:  651.306.3688

My name is Cherie Atkinson and I am the school counselor for grades 6-8 at South St. Paul Secondary. I am new to SSPPS this year, coming from previous counseling work in charter schools. I earned a B.A. degree in Psychology as well as an M.A. in School Counseling with an emphasis in mental health and addictions counseling from Purdue University. I am a newer resident to the Twin Cities area; myself, my husband, our 5 year old recently moved from Northwest Indiana to Minneapolis. Outside of work, I enjoy cooking, spending time with my little guy, and exploring my new city.
In my work with kids, I focus on providing positive support that meets students where they are and addresses the everyday struggles of school and life. I enjoy helping students understand the importance of making both responsible and authentic choices, hopefully inspiring in them the ability to become self-directed and empathic young learners. For me, the best part of being a school counselor is helping students meet their goals then develop a sense of self-efficacy and confidence. I look forward to partnering with you in your journey towards academic, personal, social and future career success!

Graduation for 2016 Seniors is on Thursday, June 9th on the Packer football field. In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held in the comp gymnasium. Seniors, it's vital that you finish strong, pass all of your classes, and leave SSP on a positive note. We've enjoyed watching you grow over the last few years and are excited about what lies ahead for you. Enjoy the last few days of your high school career, we're proud of you!
Please remember that your registration for next school year must be completed by 2/15/16. If you have questions, please see Mr. Paulson, Mrs. O'Reilly, or Mr. Peterfeso. Your Individuals & Societies teachers can also help you with accessing the directions for registering online.
ACT at SSP on 10/24
The ACT test will be held at South St. Paul Secondary on Saturday, October 24th. If you've signed up for the test, please be sure to read through directions from ACT as to what you need to bring with you (identification, etc). Please be sure to be on time and to follow all instructions, this is an important day for you. See Mr. Paulson or Mr. Marsolek with any questions. Good Luck!
Welcome Back!
Welcome back to all students! This year, we have added 6th grade to the secondary building. As a result, we have hired a new counselor to work with grades 6-8, and I'll be focusing on grades 9-12. I'm proud to introduce Mrs. Atkinson as our Junior High counselor! She will be located in my office from last year, and I have moved next door. Please welcome her to our school and feel free to stop and introduce yourself. We are looking forward to the start of the year!
Graduation/End of School Year
Congratulations to our Seniors who are finishing up their final days of school! Graduation ceremony is on Friday, May 29th at 7pm. We look forward to sending you off on your journey, please know that we're always here to support you as you pursue your goals. Please be safe this summer, make good choices, and enjoy what lies ahead. Once a Packer, Always a Packer.
SSP Secondary Ranks #2 in Best MN High Schools!!
SSP Secondary Ranks #2 in Best MN High Schools

Congratulations to South St. Paul Secondary for ranking 2nd best high school in Minnesota. We would not have achieved this without the contribution of our students, faculty and staff, parents, and support from our community.

Source: U.S. News - Best High Schools in Minnesota
A senior mailing regarding graduation and other important dates and responsibilities was mailed to seniors on April 1. If your student did not receive a packet, please contact Therese Price in the high school office at 651-457-9467.
2015 Graduation
Friday, May 29 at 7:30 PM
Ettinger Field
In case of inclement weather, Commencement will be held in the High School Competition Gym and admission will be by ticket only. Each graduate receives six tickets which will be given to them at graduation practice at 11:30 AM on Friday, May 29.
Smooth Sailing into the Secondary Building
Incoming 6th and 7th grade students and parents, please join us on Thursday, April
30, for Smooth Sailing into the Secondary Building, our new student orientation
program. Secondary Principal Mr. Moening, Assistant Principal Mrs. Jeffrey, Counselor Mr. Paulson, and 6th/7th grade teachers will be in attendance.
Date: Thursday, April 30, 2015
Time: Session 1
5:00 PM incoming 6th grade students
Session 2
6:00 PM incoming 7th grade students
Where: Secondary Building Auditorium
ACT Test- April 28th
Juniors will be taking the ACT test on Tuesday, April 28th from 7:55a-1:00p. It's important that you're on time, bring the appropriate materials, and come prepared. The ACT is a new graduation requirement for the state of MN, so it's important to do your best on this test. Scores can be submitted to 4 colleges of your choice. See Mr. Paulson or Mrs. O'Reilly with any questions.
Trimester 3!
Trimester 3 began on Monday, March 2nd. It's important that you get off to a good start in your classes, don't fall behind and try to play catch up all Tri. Please see your Assistant Principal or Mr. Paulson with questions related to your schedule or credits. We're only a few short months away from the end of the school year, finish strong!
South St. Paul Graduation Rate Exceeds State Average
The Minnesota Department of Education announced an increase in high school graduation rate in Minnesota, with state average of 81%. South St. Paul's graduation rate is above state average, reaching 95% in 2014.

We thank all our educators for their dedication and contributions toward educating our students. We also truly appreciate our partnerships with parents, staff and the community for our students' success.
Targeted Services offered at SSP Secondary
Packer PM is after school programming for students in grades 7 and 8. This program is free of charge for our students made possible through the Targeted Services Program. The following is a list of the opportunities that occur throughout the year:

Packer PM Computer Lab-Students may drop-in the 7th grade computer lab as they need to. This program is for students that need to complete work in the computer lab, finish up homework with staff, or to work on skills for technology. This is open Monday through Thursday until 4:00. The lab is supervised by a staff member that will also help students with assignments and projects.

Home Base (Targeted Services)-Students who would benefit from working with a teacher after school 3 days per week to address organization, study skills, work completion, and homework help may enroll in this program. Students sign up and are assigned to a class. The classes meet Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 2:45- 4:00. Attendance is taken and the expectation is that the students attend. Registration forms are available in the main office in the secondary building or on the school website.

Teacher Extended Hours- On designated nights, the teachers may run study sessions as it gets closer to assessments. The staff may also hold sessions to re-teach concepts that students seem to struggle with. The staff will communicate these opportunities with their classes. Students do not need to sign up for these sessions and will work with their teachers if they should attend.

Bonus Classes/Workshops-Students will have opportunities to participate in short classes or workshops that will give exposure to other learning opportunities. These sessions are offered throughout the school year and will be advertised on the daily announcements. Students may sign up the teacher running the class/workshop.

For more information about these programs, please contact Robin O’Reilly at
Peer Tutoring
Peer Tutoring is a program available at SSP that pairs student tutors with classmates who may need extra assistance to be successful in classes. Peer tutoring will take place on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 245-4p and Wednesday mornings
from 7-740a in Mrs. Merchant's room (A261). Please see Mrs. Merchant if you are interested in being a Peer Tutor or receiving tutoring services.
Credit Recovery
Students in need of credit recovery can pick up an application in the main office. Credit Recovery is available at both the High School and CLC, and runs from 2:45-4:00p on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. See Mr. Paulson or Mrs. O'Reilly for more information.
Web Pages
Dakota County website
 South St. Paul PSEO information
Information regarding PSEO program requirements, South St. Paul requirements, etc.
 school profile 2015-2016.pdf
2015-2016 School Profile
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