REACH program helps staff better connect with students in Hutchinson, Minn.

- When people ask, “What’s going on with kids today?” there are few who follow up that question by going to find out. That’s the difference at Hutchinson High School.

For the past ten years, the school has had a program in place called REACH, which simply means program leaders go and ask students about their lives and how they can help.

“We’ll set goals for students - individual, family and academic goals - and on Fridays our students evaluate themselves and peers will give feedback as well,” said REACH Director Chad Harlander.

There are 80 to 100 students a year who sign up for Chad’s class. It operates like a study hall during the school day, but it offers more than homework help - REACH offers life skills.

“We are helping kids that are hurting and we are giving them a safe place to talk about what’s going on, and get support,” said Rhoda Anderson, one of the REACH teachers.

Hutchinson High was willing to think outside the box 10 years ago when the school district brought in Harlander to start this class. Harlander had a history in family counseling and he knew kids from all backgrounds could benefit from having a safe place.

From anxiety, depression, violence, drug abuse and academic struggles, REACH offers support and help. And the idea is spreading, as more than 30 schools in Minnesota have now adopted a REACH program.

“It takes one caring adult; you just have to care for children who are hurting," said Harlander. "We have athletic directors, social workers, math teachers [heading the program]. It just takes one caring soul, it’s not that hard."

To learn more about REACH, check out their website at Hutchinson High School.

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