Sweeter than Candy: A Spotlight on Ms. Repp


Sonya Lasser and Harin Lee, Staff Writers

Everyone knows Ms. Repp’s candy jar, but how well do you know our school’s phenomenal social worker herself?

Ms. Repp has been working in our school since September 2001. She described herself as someone who everyone would go to for advice in high school, which helped guide her to her profession as a social worker. At first, she worked as the student assistance counselor at HHS, sent by an agency to replace the counselor who had been working here for 19 years prior. The goal of Repp’s job was to “provide opportunities for students to get support if they were dealing with parents who were drinking and drugging too much, worried about friends, worried about themselves drinking and drugging, or trying to reduce smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco.” Just four days into her new job, the September 11th attacks occurred, which really shaped her work. Especially being in a town so close to New York City, people were dealing with stress and trauma, and Ms. Repp played a critical role as a resource for students, families, and faculty.

Today, more than 21 years later, she sees her role as being “a connector between home, school, and community.” If there is something preventing a student from fully accessing their education, whether that be financial, medical, or emotional needs, her goal and job is to connect that student and their family with the resources they require. Unfortunately, without enough state and federal funding, the job of social workers ends up being based more in response to issues than preventing issues, which Ms. Repp finds to be one of the “biggest frustrations” of her work. 

One of her largest achievements is being the advisor of our school’s chapter of SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), a national organization with the goal of empowering students to make healthy and safe decisions for themselves. While the organization provides recommendations for what chapters can do each month, Ms. Repp emphasizes that the group “really is driven for Hastings students to figure out what Hastings students could use and to make some of those things happen.” The goal of SADD is simply to be a group of students speaking to their peers and “making them aware [that] they have options to make healthy decisions.” One good example of SADD club’s work was their “Mental Health Week,” which was created when intense COVID isolation became a major stressor on people’s emotional health. Each day was focused on a different aspect of mental health, and information was distributed to students through Google Classroom. SADD club believes that students know how to help each other, and the club gives them a platform to do so.

In the end, Ms. Repp recognizes her current job as trying to put herself “out of business” by “giving people tools [so] they can figure out things for themselves, as opposed to not knowing what to do.” Her favorite part of her work is talking to teenagers in order to be there and be available for what we need. 

Social workers were originally called “friendly visitors,” and they would go to people’s homes in order to help families with what they needed. As the profession grew, they began to work in schools, where they could help students, families, faculty and staff with making sure students are doing what they need to do. Even though they are no longer called “friendly visitors,” we know for a fact that Ms. Repp is one of the friendliest people you will find at Hastings High School. Make sure to stop by and have a chat with one of Hastings’ most incredible staff members!