7 Things Parents Can Do To Keep Up With the Kids on Social Media

October 26, 2017

Contributed by Holli Scharinger, HCES Technology Coordinator

Just when you’ve gotten the hang of Facebook, your kids have moved on to the latest and greatest social media app(s).  Keeping up with your kids on social media can be a lot like taking a drink of water from a fire hydrant.  It’s all just too much too fast!  New social media apps emerge all the time, and with these apps come new bells and whistles.  How can you possibly keep up with it all?  Well, the good news is, knowing what to look for in one app will help you know what to look for in other apps.  This will help you better guide your kids in their social media use and avoid some of the most common dangers.

What exactly should I look for in a social media app?  I’m so glad you asked.  Here are some things to look for with social media apps:

  1. Is the content shared on the app age-appropriate?  Most social media outlets feature user-generated content.  Is the content shared by others within the app age appropriate for your child?  Try using the social media app for yourself to see the content that shows up in the feed, and perform searches of content that you would not want your child to stumble upon.  See for yourself what a content search will return before allowing your child to perform searches of his/her own.  It’s a good rule of thumb to read through the app’s “terms of use” to see what it will and will not allow.  Make sure that the app allows those that violate the app’s policies to be reported.
    Some examples of apps with age-inappropriate content include: Ask.fm, Tumblr, Vine
  2. Does the app have public or private profile setting by default?  Most apps will allow their users to decide whether or not to make their profile public or private.  However, many apps make the user’s profile public by default.  This means other users of the app can access the names, posts, and pictures of anyone with a public profile.  Check the setting within in the app to see if your child’s profile is public or private.  Be sure to change profile settings that do not reflect what you are willing to have shared.  If this particular social media platform has a web-based version that your child uses, then make sure to check the profile settings there, too.
    Some examples of apps with public default settings include:  Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, Vine, Ask.fm

  3. Is the app tracking location and sharing it with others? Be sure to check the app’s setting to determine if your child’s location is being tracked.  If so, then be advised that it is sharing the location of your child in any post he or she makes.  The exact location of your child can be traced within a city block.  Locations settings can be turned off in the app’s settings and can also be turned off in the settings of your child’s device(s).  After disabling location, if posts made by your child prior to still show location, you can simply delete the old posts that display your child’s whereabouts.
    Some examples of apps with location tracking and sharing include:  Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Messenger

  4. Does the app allow live video streaming?  Children can often do and share things hiding behind a screen in private that they would never do in front of a live audience.  Sometimes the content of the live videos can be intended to embarrass or humiliate.  The one thing that kids may not think about when streaming a live video on social media, whether it’s from the privacy of their own bedroom or not, is that they do have a very real and live audience.  Kids may be oblivious as to the makeup of their viewing audience and maybe sharing too much information to complete strangers.  Worse than that, the live video stream may be captured and shared by others.  Now it’s gone viral!  Kid generated videos are not always made with ill intent and can actually channel their inner creativity.  Talk to your child about the positive and negative uses of video sharing.  If you want to foster their creative side, then encourage your child to share videos recorded and edited with software programs rather than going live.
    Some examples of apps with live video streaming include:  Periscope, Facebook, YouNow, and Meerka

  5. Does the app feature “disappearing” videos and/or pictures?  When social media platforms tout that videos or pictures disappear after a specified amount of time, kids get a false sense of security.  This is extremely misleading and dangerous for our children who may think that a compromising video or picture will go away and never be seen again.  Digital footprints NEVER go away!  Discuss with your child the fact that “temporary” pictures or videos are permanent.  Others can screenshot and share what they’ve posted and can even be recovered by forensic experts.
    Some examples of apps with disappearing videos and/or pictures include:  Snapchat, Burn Note, Yik Yak, Line, Meerkat, Periscope, YouNow

  6. Are the tools within the app to report abuse or violators of the terms of use adequate?   Most of the social media outlets have a means for reporting those that abuse or violate the terms of use, but some do not and/or their reporting tool is ineffective.  As the parent, you should familiarize yourself with the terms of use.  Make yourself aware of what the app allows in terms of content within a post.  Evaluate the apps tool to report abuse to make sure it’s adequate.  Have your child read the terms of use of the social media app, too, and make sure he/she knows the proper method to report abuse or violators.
    Some examples of apps with ineffective reporting tools:  Snapchat, Yik Yak, Omegle

  7. Does the app allow people to comment on posts and remain anonymous?  Allowing people to remain anonymous when commenting on other’s posts can be a breeding ground for cruelty.  Kids these days use social media outlets to seek attention, approval, and feedback from others.  However, they may not always get the encouraging, positive, supportive comments they are hoping for.  Social media apps allowing anonymous comments makes its poster’s an easy target for cyberbullying.  Speak with your child about the uncertainty of posting on these types of sites and how it can open doors for people to make some very cruel and hurtful comments.  Make certain your child knows how to block/unfollow and report other users if needed.
    Some examples of apps with anonymous commenting:  Yik Yak, Omegle, Whisper, Ask.fm

Finding some of the above things in the apps your child is asking to use does not necessarily mean you should ban the app from being used in your home.  Remember, you can enable/disable certain settings that will make the app safer for your child to use.  Instead of forbidding the use of a particular app, use it as an opportunity to teach your child about safety, responsible and respectful behavior, and appropriate ways to use social media.  Be watchful and monitor your kids along the way!

“This I Believe”

October 10, 2017

If someone asked you what your core values are, you would probably be able to identify them fairly easily. However, if someone asked you why those values are important to you and how they were instilled within you throughout your life, you may have to think about it for a bit.

For the 2nd year, our 8th grade students are tackling these questions through a reflective writing project, “This I Believe” essays. The essays are based on the 1950’s radio series of the same name, in which individuals from all walks of life wrote and shared essays that discussed how their past experiences shaped their core values

Since early September, 8th graders have worked in their TARGET advisory classes to identify their core values and examine how their past experiences are linked to these values/beliefs. It has been a challenging project; however, we are hopeful that it has also been impactful.

Throughout the writing process, students have explored questions such as,

  • How did you learn that it is always best to tell the truth?
  • When did you come to believe that it is better to be kind than right?
  • How did you learn that failing at something can make you stronger?

    However, the project does not end when the essays are completed. Rather, 8th grade students are assigned a date to read their essays aloud during chapel. We believe that it is important not only to identify your core values, but also to share them with others. Students’ parents are invited to attend and hear their child share the life experiences that have shaped their beliefs. At the end of each speech, the student presenter is welcomed outside to ring “Penny” the bell – a new tradition, established this year.

    We look forward to sharing excerpts from the speeches through the coming months.

“God answers everyone’s prayers the way that prayers need to be answered, not the way you want them to be answered. This I believe”

How Do We Prepare Our Children for Hurricane Irma?

September 8, 2017

Contributed by Lisa Butera, Middle School Guidance Counselor

As hurricane Irma approaches, we are all making preparations to stay safe and take care of our loved ones. This time brings anxiety and uncertainty to all of us, including the youngest members of our family. It’s hard to escape the reality of the situation when it’s on every channel and news outlet. While as adults this is a difficult situation to process, let us remember that our children may also be struggling to understand and navigate a wide range of emotions.

Here is a great article that offers ideas and ways that you can talk with your children, as well as get them involved in the planning process. It’s important to note that each of us deals with stress and uncertainty in different ways, but identifying the emotions, being thoughtful in our responses, and empowering them in small ways, we can better support our children as they work through these feelings.

We are here as a school community and, as always, feel free to reach out and let us know how we can help. Prayers to all of our families over the coming days.


Will Your Child be Ready to Lead?

August 24, 2017

Contributed by Lisa Butera, Middle School Guidance Counselor

I don’t know if you will find a ton of people who will say this, but I love 8th graders!  I truly do.  And I loved today. Why? Because I got to meet with our new 8th grade class for one of my most favorite TARGET classes of the year. Our topic … Leadership! So important, so critical in today’s world.

Our Class of 2018 have waited a long time and worked very hard to be top dog here at Holy Comforter, and they have finally made it. But, their journey’s not over – not even close! Actually, we are just beginning to get warmed up over here in the middle school. Every single one of our 8th graders, all sixty-five, were born to be leaders. No one was left out of this count!  But just as each of them is a unique creation of God, each was born to lead in his/her own way. We don’t need official titles to be leaders, and we don’t need to wait for momentous occasions to put on our leadership hat. We have countless opportunities every day to choose to be a leader.  And that’s what it’s about … every day choices.

To illustrated this point, I showed Drew Dudley’s TED Talk, “Everyday Leadership” in which he redefines leadership as being about lollipop moments – everyday acts that makes another person’s life better. It’s actually quite simple, but isn’t it the simple things that get overlooked sometimes?  If you have a few minutes, check out his video – definitely worth it!

And I could find no better way to wrap up today’s talk than with Marianne Williamson’s below quote.  So perfect, so inspirational, so true!  It’s gonna be a great year!

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God. 

Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.

And, as we let our own light shine,
we consciously give other people permission to do the same.

– Marianne Williamson



Sweet, Sweet Summertime!

August 9, 2017

What have we been up to all summer? We asked several members of our administration team to give a sneak peek at a typical summer around campus. We began the summer with an admin retreat and team building on the race tracks and the weeks following just flew by.  From vacations to summer camp to campus deep cleans and all the behind the scenes work, enjoy these excerpts from our team! Note: You’ll find a little bit of tongue and cheek humor, here and there. Though we sure have some fun during the busy summer months, I think we can all agree we are excited and ready to see students return!


Mr. Klekamp, Head of School
One permanent setting we have on our DVR at home is the program “Sunday Morning.”  If you know the program you would instantly recognize the sound of the trumpet and by now you have probably accepted Jane Pauley as the replacement to Charles Osgood.  In one of the more recent episodes, they ran a story on businesses that close early or entirely on Fridays.  The individuals that were a part of those businesses bragged to their friends that they had time to socialize or do something completely for themselves or their families.  It gave them the opportunity to grow as people. Now I am not introducing the idea that we do that during the school year, but as a school administrator who does work year round it is quite a treat to have three day weekends throughout the summer months. The abbreviated “summer hours” allows us to take time to truly reflect on the past year and make plans to improve what we do on a daily basis and grow as a school community.  It allows us to step back and see the big picture as we implement goals for the upcoming year. It’s a time for creative collaboration among our administrators as we “dream big” for the year ahead.  

I often refer to the beginning of a school year as preparing to “hop on a treadmill.”  A school year offers a different rhythm to life than the summer days.  More is asked of us as we try our best to re-wire children for the early morning routines, as well as, keeping up with a calendar filled with activities. As a Head of School and a father of three my goal this year?  Balance.  I want to be the best Head of School for our community, as well as, the best husband and father at home.  My goal is to take the time to “re-charge” or even “schedule downtime” so that I can be the best I can be in all that is asked of me.  I recently read, “We want to lead productive lives and be fruitful in our walk with the Lord, but we cannot take the place of God. We cannot do everything. We are not God.” 
So as we head into another school year, I ask you to join me on “the treadmill,” but keep in mind the time you may need to recharge to be the best you.

Mrs. Hagen, Lower School Head
Oh, the lazy days of summer are so relaxing! Well, not exactly. The change of pace during the summer months on Holy Comforter’s campus is certainly nice, but it’s not as quiet as some might think. The “to-do” list is long: designing schedules, creating class lists, ordering curriculum and supplies, planning with teachers…the list goes on. Our summer camp children are on campus enjoying fun-filled activities and provide a murmur of activity throughout June and July. Of course we can’t forget Critter Care! Our bearded dragon, snake, fish, and turtles need love, too. The bearded dragon (A.K.A. Sparky) was pampered all summer long. His vacation days included sunbathing, water fun, and visiting with friends in Mrs. Hagen’s office. Oh, the “lazy days of summer” may be more appropriately renamed as the “crazy days of summer,” but without a doubt, they are absolutely wonderful!


Mrs. Vernon, Middle School Head
Just one more week! As I slide back in to my high heels and take one final inhale of the clean smell in a hallway of still empty middle school lockers (ahhh…summer), I feel both rising excitement and a little bit of “How will it all get done?!” panic. Though the bells have been quiet, the sounds of summer have been a constant reminder of the important work to be done. The many boxes being opened and new books and materials heading to classrooms. The clicking of computer keyboards working on schedules and the snap of almost 200 locks as they are lovingly placed on each student’s locker. But my favorite sounds are yet to come – the sound of joyful (and maybe a little nervous) student voices opening those lockers and filling them with folders and books. The sounds of teachers and students sharing summer stories and what excites them about the year to come. Only a few days left until our halls are full and bustling again… see you next June, summer!


Ms. Martinez, Director of Admissions
I love when people ask me what I do in the summer to keep busy since our students are gone! Well, there is a lot to catch up on and with only nine weeks, and one of those dedicated to vacation (YAY BEACH!), we’ve stayed busy! So, in eight weeks, here are a few of the things we have been up to:

  • Countless tours, phone calls, emails and texts
  • Several shadow students (at Camp Crusader)
  • Math testing for incoming Middle School students
  • Getting all records ready for the 1st day of school
  • Planning next year’s calendar of events
  • Learning updates to the website and website maintenance
  • Resulting in 48 new families, which we are so grateful to welcome to the HCES family this Fall! 

While I enjoy the summer change of pace, right now I’m excited to see our new and returning families on campus next week!


Ms. Frederick, Director of Finance
I got the opportunity to come home this spring. I attended Holy Comforter and am a proud alumnus. I received a firm foundation academically, spiritually, and socially.  Who I am today is because of the time I spent at Holy Comforter.  It has played a huge role in my life and I am thankful to expand that role and to give back to the school who gave me so much.

Walking back onto campus, I still felt the same warmth and caring that I felt as a child…it is still “Holy Comfortable”.  The people are such a big part of what makes the school what it is.  I have enjoyed being part of the school community on a daily basis and seeing the kids enjoy the environment that I so loved as a child.  It’s wonderful to again be involved in the traditions that make Holy Comforter so special; chapel, class musicals, May Day, and the Smokies trip. I love seeing how the school has grown, learning about “new” activities like the STEM program, Spring Fling, Lecture Series and the state of the art technology in the classrooms. With that said, I have spent this summer, learning the processes and gearing up for my first full school year. There are so many activities and events that are happening that makes it exciting to be such a part of a vibrant community.  I am just so grateful to be back home!


Mrs. Wilbourn, Director of Advancement
So many people over the years have asked me, “What do you do at school during the summer?” They are usually surprised to hear that I feel almost busier in the summer than I do during some of the school months. Why is that? The answer is very simple actually. We are closing the end of one school year while trying to kick off another, all in condensed, glorious summer hours of shortened work weeks! And when you go on a trip or two for your own personal down time, the summer really flies by!
(P.S. Thank you to my family who decided not to leave me on the Navajo Trail in Bryce Canyon, UT or at the Delicate Arch in Moab. They know why!)

But the work of the HCES Advancement Office continues on and we tried to take advantage of our families’ flexibility of summer time to have conversations about the future of Holy Comforter and what is currently developing around our campus. Peter Klekamp and I have a goal to sit down one on one with as many HCES families as possible to share the school’s plans. These meetings are actually a lot of fun and I feel a distinct sense of honor and pride that I get to facilitate future growth for this school we all love. So this summer, I estimate that I reached out to about 50 families or so and as a result, we have had dozens of conversations these last nine weeks. It was time well spent and, to quote a mom from one of our summer meetings, “not intimidating at all.” If you haven’t had a chance to schedule your appointment with us, please do so. And if you have not received a call yet, you will soon so please answer! I promise you that Peter and I are delightful people to chat with and the future is exciting at Holy Comforter Episcopal School.


Mr. Fitzgerald, Director of Technology
People always ask me if I work during the summer.  I always answer, “of course!”  But, compared to the school year, the summer days of calmly working on a project don’t often seem like work.  Waking up in the morning a little later, rested, and eagerly anticipating the tasks that lay in front of you, is not SOP (standard operating procedure) during the school year. In the summer, I get to spend long hours in a cold, dimly lit room, dismantling, assembling and dismantling again!  Days can go by without a single call for help. However,  I DO look forward to the ice cream social on the day before school starts.  And once the children return, I remember why I work here in the first place.  But…. don’t think I won’t be counting the hours until Memorial Day comes again.  

An inspirer of dreams, an educator of purpose, a teacher of fitness, and a leader for many. The HCES Lecture Series presents Dr. Myron Rolle.

July 17, 2017

Holy Comforter Episcopal School began the community Lecture Series in the Spring of 2013 in order to provide a community forum where individuals from the Tallahassee community could gather to hear engaging and enlightening conversation. Speakers have presented annual lectures on meaningful topics such as science and technology, education, parenting skills and civic leadership and have included local political leaders, olympic and para-olympic athletes Julie Foudy and Chris Waddell, best-selling authors and psychologists Dr. Michael Thompson and Tim Elmore, astronaut Norm Thagard and more. These lectures are only made possible through our presenting sponsor, Hancock Bank. Thank you for your support!

On September 14th, Dr. Myron Rolle will present “The Enlightened Warrior” at 7:00pm in the school’ Student Center. Dr. Rolle, a Neurosurgeon, Rhodes Scholar and former NFL and FSU football player, will be bring his inspiring message back to Tallahassee, his former home.

Myron is driven by the fact that his parents sacrificed a way of life, friends, and familiarity of land by immigrating to the United States from the Bahamas. His repayment for this sacrifice is a steadfast commitment to maximizing each facet of his person while edifying the journeys of others in the process. Myron often remarks that he feels “an intrinsic motivation to be a leader and create a landscape for others to do the same. It is almost as if it was placed there before I came to know the world.”

Join us to hear about his incredible journey. To learn more about Myron and the Lecture Series, visit www.hces.org/lecture. The event is FREE and open to the public.