Return to Learn: Plan for a Safe Return 2020-2021

Return to Learn: Plan for a Safe Return 2020-2021

FAQ: Counseling for Sophomores

Posted: September 25, 2020

School counselors are available to assist students and their families. Refer to the School Counseling Directory for contact information.

New Student Registration Information

What are the steps required to enroll a new student?

Parents are asked to use the Online Pre-Registration (OLR) self-service parent portal which allows parents and guardians to pre-register students online anytime from anywhere. OLR will be used in place of paper registration forms. The school will contact parents and guardians to schedule an in-person appointment to finalize the registration process. More information and to start the registration process.

When should the registration process start?

To help ensure that schools and students are well prepared for the first day of school, parents are encouraged to register their child or children at their zone school as soon as possible. Doing so helps our schools and teachers be equipped and ready to make each student's first day pleasant and productive.

How do I determine what school my student will attend?

To determine which school your child will attend, use the NNPS School Zone Finder. Enter your address, and the zone finder will provide the names of the elementary, middle, and high school assigned to your residence in the city. You may also call (757) 591-4500 to find out which school serves your neighborhood.


What date will schedules be available?

Schedules will be available for students to view on their StudentVue accounts during the first week of September. Please check school’s websites for additional support with schedules.

If I have a question or concern about my schedule, who do I contact?

Students are encouraged to email their school counselor if they have questions about their schedule.

When is the deadline to request a schedule change?

The last date to request a schedule change is September 18, 2020.

Who do I contact for academic support?

The first step is to reach out to your teacher through email or Canvas. Teachers will be available to support you in enhancing your understanding of the learning and/or key concepts. Please keep the lines of communication open with your teachers. Should additional support be necessary, please reach out to your school counselor to assist you in navigating support and resources.

Graduation Requirements

What are the requirements to be classified as a sophomore?

In order to be classified as a sophomore, a student must be in his/her 2nd year of high school and have earned a minimum of 5 credits.

How will I know if I am on track for 2023 graduation?

Your school counselor will schedule an appointment to meet with you and your family to discuss your progress and postsecondary plans. If you or your parents have any questions prior to your individual meeting, please email your counselor for assistance. Email addresses are available in the staff section of each school’s website.

What are the graduation requirements for the class of 2023?

Credits Required for Graduation with a Standard Diploma

Discipline Area Standard Units of Credit Required *Verified credits required
English 4 2
Mathematics 3 1
Laboratory Science 3 1
History & Social Studies 3 1
Health & Physical Education 2  
World Language, Fine Arts, or Career & Technical Education 2  
Economics & Personal Finance 1  
Electives 4  
Career & Technical Education Credential    
Total 22 5

*A verified unit of credit is awarded for a course in which the student earns a standard unit of credit and passes a corresponding end-of-course SOL test or a substitute assessment approved by the Board of Education.

Credits Required for Graduation with an Advanced Studies Diploma

Discipline Area Standard Units of Credit Required *Verified credits required
English 4 2
Mathematics 4 1
Laboratory Science 4 1
History & Social Studies 4 1
World Language 3  
Health & Physical Education 2  
Fine Arts or Career & Technical Education 1  
Economics & Personal Finance 1  
Electives 3  
Total 26 5

Grade Point Average

What is a grade point average?

This is an average that is based upon the grades a student has earned in credit bearing coursed in middle and high school. The calculation takes into account the level of difficulty or weight of the course taken.

How are courses weighted?

Letter Grade Points: IB, AP, GSST Points: Honors, Pre-IB Points: STandard
A 5 4.5 4
B 4 3.5 3
C 3 2.5 2
D 2 1.5 1
F 0 0 0

New Horizons Career and Technical Education Center

When can I apply to New Horizons Career and Technical Education Center?

Students may complete an application for New Horizons starting the spring semester of their sophomore year. Only 11th and 12th grade students may take classes at New Horizons.

The Governor’s School for Science and Technology

What is the Governor's School for Science and Technology?

The Governor’s School is a two-year, half-day program for 11th and 12th graders. Additional courses will be taken at the home high school to complete an Advanced Diploma degree.

When can I apply to the Governor's School for Science and Technology?

Admission to the program is highly competitive. Test scores, teacher recommendations and course grades will be used to determine which students will be invited to participate in the Governor’s School Pre-Admissions Series offered in 9th and 10th grade. Designated students will take prerequisite courses offered at their high schools and will participate in informational sessions that will acquaint them with and prepare them for the two-year program. Final acceptance into the Governor’s School in the spring of their 10th grade year will be dependent on math and science GPAs, teacher recommendations and PSAT scores.

College Preparation

What is the PSAT?

The PSAT/NMSQT is the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The Division will pay for Sophomores to take this preparation test. The PSAT is a great primer for the SAT, and even the ACT. PSAT scores are used to identify National Merit Scholars and award merit scholarship during a student’s 11th grade year.

What does the PSAT test?

The PSAT has two sections: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. You’ll encounter passage-based questions—sometimes accompanied by tables, graphs, and charts—and math problems drawing upon algebra, geometry, and a little trig.

How is the PSAT scored?

Each section is scored on a scale of 160–760, making a "perfect" score 1520. There are also test scores, cross-test scores, and sub scores.

How should I prepare for the PSAT?

SAT prep materials are offered through Khan Academy and College Board.

Will PSAT be offered this school year?

PSAT: October 14, 2020 Testing Cancelled
Newport News Public Schools provides all sophomores an opportunity to take the PSAT test in October at no cost to the student. College Board will provide information regarding alternative assessment dates. Updated information will be shared once rescheduling date is received.

Sophomores will have an opportunity to test on March 26, 2021 for the PSAT 10.

How can I prepare for college during my sophomore year?

Sophomore Year Checklist


    • Time Management:
      • Learn how to make the most efficient use of your time
      • Use SMART goals to keep you on task
      • Include down time in your schedule
    • College Entrance Exams:


    • Academics:
      • Keep up your grades; colleges look at your grade point average (GPA)
      • Review your four-year academic plan with your counselor
        • Enroll in Honors, Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses, which may earn college credit.
        • Take college courses while in high school and ear both high school and college credit (known as dual enrollment)
      • Plan rigorous academic courses for your junior year
    • Extracurricular Activities:
      • Join a club or try out for a sports team
      • Volunteer for something you find important
      • Explore summer opportunities- be mindful of application deadlines
    • Career Exploration:
      • Seek summer opportunities to work or volunteer in your field of interest
      • Take an interest inventory- it expands your ideas for careers you may enjoy
      • Have conversations with counselors, teachers, family and community members about their career paths and what they studied in college
    • College Search:
      • Visit campuses- think about size, location and academic programs
      • Attend local college fairs in your area
      • Try online college fairs and virtual campus tours
      • Use an online search engine to find colleges
      • Try virtual tours


    • Prepare for Summer:
      • Create a summer reading list from teacher recommendations
      • Confirm your summer plans (e.g., work, academic, enrichment, camps, internships, campus tours)
    • Money Management:
      • Learn about types of scholarships and grants
      • Take a financial education course
      • Use the tools found on the College Affordability and Transparency Center website
      • Research Net Price Calculators on the websites of colleges and universities that appeal to you

What is the Early College Program?

The Early College Program is a partnership between Newport News Public Schools and Thomas Nelson Community College. It is offered to qualified seniors who are prepared and interested in accelerating their coursework toward a college degree after graduation. The courses offered within this program are a part of the Commonwealth College Course Collaborative, where Virginia public colleges and universities agree to accept transfer credits as a part of their college’s general educational requirements. Students can earn up to 19 transferable credits.

Who is eligible for the Early College Program?

Seniors that have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA and are able to complete the requirements of an Advanced Diploma by the end of the first semester of their senior year. These students must also successfully place into TNCC’s placement test for English 111 and English 112 for the first semester and maintain at minimum a C average.

4 YEAR COLLEGE: It is recommended in your senior year that you should apply to 4-7 schools. We recommend that you tier your applications based on the difficulty of each college’s requirements for acceptance (i.e. GPA, SAT scores). And we always suggest a safety school which is one that you know you will receive an acceptance.

There are many resources on the web. The College Board (Big Futures) and Naviance both have great search engines. Please consider the following: How far away from home do I want to go? Do I want to go to a large university or a medium or small college? Do I want to be in the country, suburbs or an urban setting? Does the college have my major? What extracurricular activities are important and do they have them? Is the prestige of the college important? Does the college help with internships and help me get a job when I graduate?

2 YEAR COMMUNITY COLLEGE: Community colleges offer many opportunities to earn an associate’s degree or various trade certifications. Students may opt to attend a community college and take advantage of the Guaranteed Admissions Program. The Guaranteed Admissions program allows students to attend the community college for the first two years and transfer to a four-year college for their last two years. Visit Thomas Nelson Community College or Tidewater Community College.


How does Newport News Public Schools help research scholarships?

NNPS will publish a monthly scholarship bulletin starting in October.

Will I qualify for scholarships during my sophomore year?

Most scholarships are offered to graduating seniors however there are a few scholarships offered to students in grades 10 and 11. Please review the monthly scholarship bulletin and speak with your school’s college and career specialist for updates.

Career Preparation

What is the Early Career Program?

The Early Career Program is a partnership between Newport News Public Schools and Thomas Nelson Community College. It is designed for seniors who plan on pursuing certifications that will allow for employment opportunities in the skilled trades industry immediately after graduation. Newport News currently offers a career program in Welding which offers training and certifications in 5 courses. They include Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW), Flux Core Arc Welding (FCAW), Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW), Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW), and Certified Pipe Welder.

Who is eligible for the Early Career Program?

Students that have met all graduation requirements for at least a Standard diploma by the end of the first semester of their senior year. These students must successfully complete the full year of 12 English and US Government with a grade of C or better during the first semester of senior year.


What test is required to join the military?

In order to join the military, you must take the ASVAB test and earn a qualifying score on that test.

What does the ASVAB measure?

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery measures your knowledge and ability in ten different areas. It is not an IQ test, but the ASVAB does help the military assess which jobs you are best suited to perform.

How can I prepare for the ASVAB?

Getting a good night’s rest and arriving on time are the two most important steps you can take to prepare. For free ASVAB practice visit

When can I take the ASVAB test?

Most students will take the ASVAB test during their 11th and 12th grade year. Students must receive a qualifying score to join the military.

Who administers the ASVAB, and where can I test?

The ASVAB is usually given in schools by test administrators from the federal government. Schools determine where and when the ASVAB will be given. Due the current pandemic, NNPS is not currently offering the ASVAB. However, if you are interested in joining the military contact your local recruiter for more information on ASVAB requirements and testing locations. You may now also take an un-proctored version of the ASVAB test, called the PiCAT, at home at your own convenience.


Will there be the annual College Fair this year?

There will be a virtual college fair this year over a two-month period. Students will need to register.

September 22 – September 26: HBCU Virtual College Fair

September 14 – November 6: VACRAO and StriveScan present the Virtual College Exploration Program. Join over 100 institutions for panels and college fairs over the course of eight weeks.

    • Week 1: Sept. 14-18, Transfer-specific panel presentations and virtual college fairs
    • Week 2: Sept. 21-25, Freshman admission panel presentations
    • Weeks 3-6: Sept. 28 - Oct. 23, Freshman virtual college fairs
    • Week 7: Oct. 26-30, Freshman admission panel presentations
    • Week 8: Nov. 2-6,Transfer-specific panel presentations and virtual college fairs

All events are free and open to all students. Sign up for as many sessions as you would like that fit your schedule. Website for students to register:

Mental Health

Given the impact of school closures and the pandemic have had on the well-being of students, what resources are available this year to support their mental health?

Social emotional and mental health resources will be available to support students this fall. Clinical and counseling staff will provide mental health support and resources including group counseling and consultation for students and families as needed.

NNPS has Licensed Mental Health Therapists who offer school based mental health therapy. Please contact your school counselor to complete a referral for services.

Who should I contact if I need to speak with someone and am feeling sad or depressed?

Please reach out to your school counselor (email addresses are on the school website) or student support specialist at your school. Send him/her an email, and he/she will respond as soon as they can. Please put urgent in the subject line of your email.

You can also text "HOME" to 741741 for free counseling 24/7 in the United States.

If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself, please call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

Social/Emotional Support is ongoing and a priority for all school counselors. Noted below are ways this is utilized:

    • Collaboration with school psychologists and social workers
    • Family updates with resource recommendations
    • Sharing resource support with teachers
    • Small group meetings on anxiety, stress, management
    • Wellness check in with parents/providing resource
    • Checking on students through parent contact
    • Zoom meetings with teachers and parents
    • Sharing resources with teachers on emotional support
    • Follow up contacts based on parent and teacher recommendations
    • Check in with students via google classroom and zoom
    • Phone calls and follow up emails to families
    • Small groups in zoom and google classroom
    • Teaming in class sessions with teachers
    • Counselor corner newsletter
    • Providing students & families with tips & resources on wellness
    • Following up with students who teachers and administrators have addressed concerns
    • Check-in’s with social/emotional concerns 
    • Student Support Team Meetings  (Child Studies, 504’s)
    • Collaboration with student support specialists, school psychologists and social workers


NNPS Course Offering Guide

Naviance: College and Career Assessment:

Free College Planning:

Opportunities Guide and Handbook: ECMC (en espanol)

Apps for Mindfulness, Activities and Anxiety:

  • Abide
  • Calm
  • Headspace
  • Mindshift
  • Stop Breathe and Think