News flash: We all experience some form of stress.
With the purpose of helping the community overcome the negative effects of stress and anxiety, the school hosted its first ‘Wellness Day’ on Nov. 13. The administration, the Wellness Committee (made up of staff and students) and the Student Government Association (SGA) organized a non-instructional day for students where they were able to choose and participate in various stress-relieving activities instead of having their typical, structured class.
Students had to sign up online beforehand for the two activities they wanted to partake in. If someone forgot to sign up, a group of SGA members in front of the Media Center helped solve that issue. The options ranged from playing with therapy dogs and playing ping pong to knitting and making friendship bracelets. “The sign-up sheet online was super easy to follow and I like the fact that I was able to choose what I could do that day,” junior Leah Bloshteyn said.
The day started out with everyone going to their homeroom class to watch a video that gave more context and details to the Wellness Day. The video explained how the juniors and seniors were put into one group and the freshman and sophomores were put into another. The upperclassman would start with the anchor activity of watching a film in the auditorium while the underclassmen would go to the activities they elected, and then, they would switch. At the end, there would be time for lunch since it was also an early release schedule that day. Attendance would also be taken based on the activities each student signed up for.
The movie chosen was the fantasy/comedy-drama Inside Out (2015). “Inside Out is a great Disney movie which helps show how all your emotions work together especially to overcome difficult situations,” SGA co-Secretary senior Hunter Band said in the homeroom video.
After the juniors and seniors watched the film, Resource Counselor Arielle Markiewicz shared her thoughts on the movie to everyone in the auditorium. “I think that they made [the character] Joy’s hair the color blue because both sadness and happiness are necessary. Without sadness you cannot experience true and pure happiness in life,” Markiewicz said.
Sophomore Tiam Pourdarvish said she enjoyed the movie. “I really liked Inside Out because it relates to how everyone feels at times. We all go through times where we feel sad and alone like [the character] Riley did, but in the end joy comes when you’re surrounded with those who you love most,” Pourdarvish said.
Moving on to the other activities, students said they were amused and relaxed with the various things to do. “Karaoke was a really great way to de-stress for Wellness Day,” senior Jasmin Rafie said.
Freshman Ryan Binder said that he was inclined toward the sporty activities during this day. “Wellness Day was a great way to have a fun and relaxing break by playing sports like Spikeball and basketball,” Binder said.
Junior Jessica Llewellyn said she noticed the low turnout of students. According to the Attendance Secretary Helen Vincenty, 740 students (about a third of the student body) did not attend to school that day. “The day was a lot of fun. However, I think it would have been even better if more students attended,” Llewelyn said.
Junior Tina Liu is one student who chose to stay home. “If this day was really about wellness, the absences should be excused because some people really just can’t relax in a school environment. I feel well-rested and more relaxed from staying at home and catching up on sleep,” Liu said.
SGA co-President senior Aaron Lazar said that Wellness Day met his hopes and expectations. “I think Wellness Day went extremely well. Based off walking around during the activities, it seems like everyone had a really great time. In our society, where everything is so stressful, this day was extremely necessary and definitely helped relieve some of the students’ and teachers’ stress, so I’d say the day was a major success,” Lazar said.
SGA co-President senior Liam Hall said Wellness Day will be repeated at some point. “We were greatly encouraged by the positive feedback we received from both staff and students, and we hope to continue this event some time in the future. No plans have been discussed regarding bringing back the event again this school year. However, there’s a unanimous consensus among our Wellness Committee that this event will be in Wootton’s future,” Hall said.
SGA sponsor and social studies teacher Fevronia Cresham said Wellness Day was important for a lot of reasons, especially to show that stress is a normal, human feeling. “The overall goal is to make sure that students understand that everybody feels stressed and some stress is okay. It helps you perform better sometimes. It alerts you to the fact that maybe you need to back off or do something different to relax yourself. What is important to know is that you need to keep things balanced, that you are not alone, [that] everybody feels these things and that you should come up with ways to alleviate this stress,” Cresham said.
Teachers said they were also excited to be part of this project. English teachers Nicholas Hitchens and Zachary Lowe prepared Spotify playlists for their music-listening activity. “I think the Wellness Day is important not only to us as individuals, but also as a community. We get to relax, recharge and be mindful of ourselves together, while building a wellness culture here at Wootton and in the community,” Hitchens said.