Placer’s first full-time female counselor retiring

By: Jenifer Gee, Journal Staff Writer
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In her 34 years at Placer High School, you can imagine Kathy Connelly has seen it all. She’s helped scores of young teens make the transition from freshmen to young adults and says she’s enjoyed the ride. “Thirty-four years seems to be like a drop in the bucket,” Connelly said. Connelly, who retires this year, was hired as Placer High School’s first full-time female counselor in 1975. “I was 28 when I started and every parent was older than me,” Connelly said. At that time, there were no electronic programs to help organize student schedules. Instead, there was a blackboard with a schedule mapped out and tally marks to indicate which classes were full. Technology has also changed the college-application process. In the past, students would visit their counselor for an application. Now, that can be completed on the Internet. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is that students still go to their school counselor for reasons ranging from scheduling issues to personal problems. Connelly has spent part of her tenure training students how to recognize and help suicidal peers. She also helps counsel and refers students who have been abused in any way, including sexual abuse. Since Connelly has been a counselor at Placer, she and other counselors have been assigned to the same class of students during their four years on campus. Starting with 1990, Connelly has a class picture of each group of students she watched grow up. She said the class of 1990 was memorable because it was a small, close-knit group of students. It was the class that had one of the first senior campouts — an activity that lasted only a few years — and almost every student in that class stayed on campus to eat lunch rather than take advantage of open campus. “That was a special class to me,” Connelly said. After retiring from Placer, Connelly will continue teaching sociology at Sierra College. She’ll also take more vacations, spend time with her two grandchildren, continue to play racquetball and enjoy her vacation home on Lake Almanor. “I’ll be doing everything I haven’t done by working two jobs these past 30 years,” Connelly said. So what will Connelly miss about Placer? “Absolutely the kids,” she said. “See these wrinkles,” Connelly said, pointing to the lines around her eyes, “They’ve come from laughing with the kids.” The Journal’s Jenifer Gee can be reached at or post a comment at