PHS implements new Wellness Week to help students destress

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Poolesville High School students participated in the Student Government (SGA) sponsored Wellness Week during the week of September 24 to 28 to improve student’s well-being after student leaders, working with the staff, created the idea at an Independent Leadership Team (ILT) meeting over the summer. The week hosted activities and events that promoted relaxation over a series of themed days: Music Monday, Turn-it-off Tuesday, Waggy Wednesday, Therapeutic Thursday, and Feel Good Friday.

“The SGA was inspired to have wellness week because the school year can be stressful and challenging for many people” says Humanities Senior Bryce Davis, who was one of the student leaders in charge of the event. He believes having a week dedicated to improving students mental wellbeing can be an effective way of reducing stress. Allie Hicks, SGA sponsor, corroborates that this event was intended to remind students to take a step back and take a breather.

The SGA was allowed to take the lead in creating activities for the students of PHS.

“When coming up with the activities for each day, we received various inputs and ideas from what students found to be stress relieving, and we also focused on fun activities that would promote mindfulness within our school,” explains Global Ecology Senior Grace Kim, SGA President.

On Music Monday, music was played in between classes, and these music breaks continued throughout the rest of the week. Teachers and students were encouraged to turn off electronics and Promethean boards, if class instruction allowed it, on Turn-it-off Tuesday and oversized coloring posters were provided in the media center during lunch. The biggest hit of Wellness Week, according to Hicks, was Waggy Wednesday, on which therapy dogs were brought in to the old gym for students to pet. On Therapeutic Thursday, desk yoga and meditation was offered at lunch, and students were encouraged to wear comfortable clothing to school. Feel Good Friday coincided with the fall pep rally, and several teachers offered latin dance lessons in the old gym during lunch.

“The activities throughout the week [were] really cool because they [weren’t] lessons or structured lectures,” says Davis.

As a staff member, Hicks sees a lot of students staying up late, who therefore do not get a lot of sleep, which she says ultimately affects their academic performance the next day. Hicks believes it is important to discuss mental health issues in school.

“As a society, we’re so bombarded by everybody’s opinion and we are so quick to take all that in and let that develop who we think that we are… and it’s good to pause and be yourself and remember what’s important for you,” Hicks explains.

The SGA is already planning the next wellness week, or similar activities to it, including possible plans for a brief wellness week before AP exams in May this year, because they want to keep discussing mental health and well-being of students. Kim says she hopes that the school will continue to put emphasis on mindfulness and the student’s wellbeing.

Student participation varied depending on the activity, according to a poll conducted on the Poolesville Pulse’s Instagram account. When asked if they had participated in Waggy Wednesday, 85% of students responded “yes,” but when asked if the students or their teachers participated in Turn it off Tuesday, less than 1% responded with “yes”.