By Jim Sullivan
---- — BYFIELD — Rebecca Fish bleeds blue, and she is making sure Triton High School becomes a little bit bluer every day she is on the job.
“Triton is where I’m from; it’s where I grew up,” said Fish, Triton Regional High School student adjustment counselor and student council adviser.
“People say, ‘Who are you? What’s your culture?’ And school is a big deal to me. Not necessarily to be the smartest kid or what-not, but I was very involved in school and making sure that everybody had a good time. Giving back to the community because that is what I feel is important. That’s what Triton has taught me.”
In fact, Fish was voted Most Spirited when she graduated from Triton in 1999 and comes from a long line of Vikings. In 2011, Fish got her master’s degree in education with a focus on school adjustment counseling and licensed mental health counseling and about a year ago, heard that an adjustment counselor position was open at her alma mater.
“It was a complete dream,” Fish said of landing the Triton job. “It happened by complete accident. I was working at an alternative high school at the time. I had no idea (the school) was hiring and (the position) closed that day. I went through my two rounds of interviews and when (Triton principal) Katherine Dawe called me to tell me I have the position, I literally said, ‘Shut up!’ I was so excited to get back to where I came from.”
Fish began her professional homecoming last September, and less than a month into the new job was approached by her 1999 class adviser, Kristen Lazzaro, who asked her to take over the student council.
“She told me, ‘You need to do this,’” Fish said. “‘This is meant for you. It hasn’t really gone anywhere in a long time, you need to do this.’”
Fish signed on and with four students decided to begin the school year with a new slogan: “Revive Viking Pride.” The council started rolling it out for Homecoming Week in November, which also functioned as a membership drive. They then joined in the Secret Santa drive for the holidays.
January saw the council putting on their “V.I.P Basketball Night,” where they raffled off four court-side, leather seats for the Triton/Newburyport home game. A pep rally followed in March that featured a loudest class competition as well as a Triton T-shirt slingshot and a production of a school-wide “Harlem Shake” video.
With their ranks now swelled to 35, the council took on their greatest challenge, dismantling the school’s student coffee ban.
“That was huge,” said Fish. “It was really neat to see them take charge and do something like that. They fought the system and they won.”
“They haven’t won 100 percent,” countered Dawe. “We’re still in a pilot phase. But they did fabulous. They took responsibility, they saw a need, they responded to their peers who wanted to be able to have coffee during the first period of the day. They learned how to present the proposal to the school principal. They did the research and provided me with the data. They got the signatures and did a really nice presentation for me that I could not possibly refuse.”
Dawe also said the coffee pilot program is going very well and after that victory, the council pumped up teacher appreciation week by keeping up the coffee theme.
“It cost us some money, but we got a big industrial Keurig (coffee) machine,” said Fish. “And we got coffee free for the rest of the year for the staff. So, to go along with lifting the coffee ban, we had coffee for everyone.”
She has brought enthusiasm and passion for student leadership, Dawe said of Fish. She definitely wants students to become more involved in the community, helping them to be agents of change for their peers and for the school environment. She is the perfect person for the role.
One thing Fish has not been able to get very far with is the re-institution of the school’s fight song, “The Byfield Chant.”
“At the beginning of the year, I had started doing it,” Fish said of The Chant. “And the kids were like; ‘What the (heck) are you saying?’ And I was horrified. Because that’s what we would scream at games. Especially Newburyport games. That’s what you did. If you went to Triton and were from Byfield, that’s what you did.”
That may have been the case back then, but Fish has found herself in an uphill battle.
“It absolutely will come back,” she said. “I have confidence.”