2019-2020 Wellness Initiative

Alyssa Sherry, Features Editor

As March rolls around once more, Wayne Valley recognizes this month as key to its 2019-2020 Wellness Initiative. This initiative, which aims to reduce the anxiety of the high school environment through activities that promote mindfulness and personal well-being, is constantly being adapted by several students and staff members. Throughout this school year so far, Wayne Valley has organized several opportunities for students, teachers, and administrators to take a pause from their daily stressors and focus on what is really important—their mental health. This month will really foster those opportunities.

One of the most important events of the Wellness Initiative is the Wellness Fair, which was scheduled to take place on Friday, March 20th, in the main gym, during all blocks. Multiple clubs and organizations, including Peer Leaders, National Honor Society, and SADD, were supposed to run booths and share information on the promotion of mental health. Several popular activities, such as the stress balls booth, were to return. Peer Leaders advisor Ms. Potts remarks, “[The Wellness Fair] is a fantastic way to bring together different organizations. Everyone is dedicated and works hard to share what they know and do for overall wellness, and this just helps bolster the positivity in the school community overall.” Given Wayne Valley’s emergency closing, it is unclear as of now if the event will be rescheduled. 

This March, “Mindfulness Mondays” are a brand-new addition to the Wellness Initiative. During unit lunch on every Monday in March, a guided meditation takes place in the wrestling room. Administrators hope to spread the word about this event so it can continue past March, for the benefit of students and staff alike. 

In the past and throughout this year, our staff has also organized and participated in several events to promote the Wellness Initiative. Previously, Mrs. Voskian and Ms. Solomon taught Zumba and yoga classes. The teachers’ faculty room is also home to the Staff Shoutouts bulletin board, where staff members are recognized for their impact in Wayne Valley. 

This year, the guidance department hosted several successful “Coffee With Counselors” meetings for Wayne Valley parents. A few of these presentations focused on wellness-related topics such as mindfulness and coping with anxiety.  These particular Coffee With Counselors meetings were held on Wednesday, December 11th, and Wednesday, February 19th.

One of the Wellness Initiative’s most popular events has already returned to Wayne Valley several times this year—Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs. Students can visit guidance to learn more about the therapy dogs. Their visits are scheduled for every third Thursday of each month. 

The 2019-2020 Wellness Initiative also involved a few Wellness Weekends, where students were not assigned homework, in order to give them a brief break from tests, projects, and assignments. Wellness Weekends so far this year include November 27th-December 1st and February 14th-17th. The next upcoming one will be May 22nd-25th.  Additionally, Wayne Valley has recently implemented a Wellness unit in gym, where students spend a few weeks participating in meditation and other stress-relieving activities. Freshmen have also received lessons and training in mindfulness from Kerri Bacall, a representative from Springfield Holistic Wellness. 

Although the Wayne Valley team has done an amazing job with the Wellness Initiative so far, students and staff agree that there is still room for the program to grow. Mrs. Perricone, a teacher involved with the Wellness Initiative, reveals, “We have discussed creating a space for students and staff to decompress for a moment.  Some schools have a small space to just be quiet, disconnect from technology, and clear your mind.”

Ms. Potts adds, “I’d really like to get more feedback from students about what they like about the wellness initiatives. What works, what doesn’t work? When, outside of the efforts in March, do they feel they would benefit from wellness initiatives?”

Ultimately, the team of students and administrators involved in Wayne Valley’s Wellness Initiative hope to grow the program further in the coming years. They also hope to increase awareness about the Wellness Initiative so that all students have the opportunity to take a break from the stress of high school and improve their well-being.