For the first time, the Darien school system will have a comprehensive program to give counselors more face time with students during their high school careers and to better respond to their needs.

The new guidance and counselor curriculum, which was presented and approved at Tuesday's Board of Education meeting, was designed to allow the development of stronger relationships between the guidance center and students, who may only meet with their counselors for a minimal amount of time during their high school years.

"We want stronger relationships with students to ensure that we have a true comprehensive program that students have access to," said Paul Ribiero, the director of guidance at Darien High School.

The curriculum will roll out in the spring for grades nine and 10 only, according to Ribiero. Other grades will be added next year.

Each student will have five classes per quarter, which will be scheduled during a free period so as to not impact instructional time.

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Each grade will take the class in different quarters during the year. The freshmen will take the course in the second quarter, sophomores in the fourth, juniors during the third and seniors in the first.

The first two quarters of class, for the freshmen and sophomores, will be evaluated, and changes will be made before all the students are enrolled in the 2014-15 school year.

The grade level will determine the topics. Freshmen will spend time evaluating the differences between high school and middle school and identifying the school resources that will enable them to make the most of their four years at DHS.

Sophomores will be taught effective study habits and the dangers of peer pressures.

Ribiero said the guidance department is creating lesson plans for spring.

He added that he wants counselors to start observing what he referred to as "master teachers" before leading a class themselves.

Potential costs for implementing the curriculum are low, according to Ribiero, and the only necessity will be some additional training, which will be absorbed into currently allotted funds.; 203-330-6583; @Meg_DarienNews