by Brissa Reyes
We have a lot of appreciation for the people who guide us students on the path to success. Whatever the choice after high school, counselors make sure we have the necessary tools and preparation to take on whichever path we choose. They support us, direct us, and we would probably be very lost without them. At RHS, one of these amazing counselors is Hector Chapa, a counselor who has guided his first senior class to graduation this year.
Raised in Orange Cove and proud Pirate alumni, Chapa graduated from CSU Fresno and began his career teaching various levels of Spanish at RHS. Not until teaching AVID classes did he realize he wanted to aid students in their academic success at a greater level. “My students were so awesome and opened my eyes to the whole student rather than just the student that sits in your classroom. For AVID we would follow our students all four years, and I experienced their hardships and their successes. My AVID classes inspired me to go back to school and experience the same concepts I had in the classroom but on a more grandeur scale as a Counselor.”
Now Chapa is entrusted with managing a whole grade level of students from their Freshmen to Senior year. This year will be his first graduating class! He meets with students daily to ensure that they have the requirement in order to receive their diplomas, complete a-g requirements, and choose their correct coursework. “My work days are never the same. I am continuously meeting with students regarding their various concerns from difficulties at home to planning for college. This makes my job exciting. There is never a dull moment, and all of my students have different personalities, some are super serious and some are very silly. No matter what the day brings I do my best to meet my student’s needs.”
Chapa makes himself accessible to his students and coworkers, his hard work is evident as many have said that he has made a positive impact throughout the campus. Jonathan Valdez, a senior in the graduating class, expresses, “Being a teacher assistant for the counseling office is literally the best. Not only do we get to see the secret rooms but each counselor has made me laugh so much. I enjoy going to that period everyday as I’ve bonded with them throughout the year. A counselor like Chapa, truly cares about his students. One student is important to him as the whole class. He and all the RHS staff have shaped me into the student I am today.”
Amber Hunt, a fellow counselor and friend, states, “Mr. Chapa has been a mentor of mine for a long time, ever since I started teaching. He’s been a great example, is very professional, and probably the most organized person I have ever met. Students really build good relationships with him—plus his laugh is contagious!”
He says that the hardest part of his job is learning everyone’s name. Every year he aims to connect with students personally and recognize them, even if they experiment with looks and are continually growing. “My goal is that every student felt supported at RHS. A harsh reality is that not all students will graduate, but as long as they felt supported, I will feel overjoyed. The counselor and student relationship is a team effort. The counselor should guide in the formation of a plan to overcome any obstacles, and the student should execute the plan they helped devise. I am so very proud of this graduating class for all of their successes whether personal or academic.”
With many great stories, he cannot pick just one to share. He points out that a highlight for him in this graduating class was being referred to as “Papa Chapa” by many students, as this term of endearment makes him smile whenever students try to grab his attention. In addition, his first son Jonah will be graduating, he says that he is very proud of all his achievements and know he is onto amazing things! This first senior class holds a special place in his heart.
These educators are the ones who shape the next generation of young minds and encourage them to accomplish their goals. RHS is grateful to have such an amazing team motivated to giving kids the opportunity for a brighter future. Thank you, Mr. Chapa, for guiding the Class of 2018!