International Baccalaureate Math Analysis and Approaches Higher level 1 may be a class full of calculations and mathematical problems, but now on Wednesdays,
it contains something more for students like Bonita Vista High junior Victoria Webb. Starting on Monday, Webb looks forward to the middle of the school week because of the activities IB math teacher Jared Phelps provides to destress from life.
To resolve the issue of anxiety and stress on campus, counselors have set up coping techniques to help students relieve some of their respective burdens. New BVH counselor, Lelaine Torres, was an advocate for bringing the Wellness Wednesday program to BVH, which occurred on Aug. 7, 2019.
The idea of this program at BVH was thought of by counselor Lorena Lucero Mata, who saw the need to promote students’ and teachers’ health.
“[Mata] had recognized the need for mental awareness, not just for students but for teachers as well. In order to maintain that level of feeling okay you have to take time out for yourself. She recognized it and said that we should incorporate that into our program,” Torres said.
In addition, this program was greatly influenced by the struggles students are facing with social media. Torres explains that social media causes a lot of anxiety for students, who are getting bullied or suffering from insecurities. Torres believes that the main aid that students should learn is to find time and space to just breath.
“This new generation uses social media which causes a lot of anxiety. We are encouraging them to find a space, to have self-awareness, and to know when you are stressed out. It’s normal to be stressed out, but [it’s important] to find a place to breathe,” Torres said.
Phelps has also tried to incorporate wellness in his classrooms on Wednesday. According to Webb, he does activities that will help students distress and keep balance in their life.
“He brings activities to just [help us] de-stress from life, such as playing with Play-Doh, reading a children’s book, baking us cookies to just sit and enjoy, [and] writing a nice letter to someone we appreciate,” Webb said.
In addition to destressing, having Wellness Wednesday and encouragement for self-care will improve students academically, according to BVH school nurse Paola Garcia.
“When somebody is healthy and is getting enough sleep, eating, and taking care of themselves […] they are more productive, and more successful in school. Those two are connected, and it’s really important that kids know how to take care of themselves so that they can do well in school,” Garcia said.
There are many methods for encouraging student’s wellness and kindness. Counselors have been sending out emails to students and staff about Wellness Wednesday. Torres has sent out motivational quotes and messages to further emphasize the message.
“We have encouraged a lot of the staff about Wellness Wednesday; just sending a message or a quote reminding them to take a break. We also do that for students through social media, for instance, I will always post something about Wellness Wednesday [on Instagram],” Torres said.
Not only have counselors started to send out emails about Wellness Wednesday, but they have also become more welcoming, according to Torres. They have motivated more students to come by their office if they ever need to breath. Through doing this, the counselors have tried to make their office more comfortable for students.
“A lot of the counselors here encourage the students to come to their offices, so we are starting to set up our office and counseling center to more of an environment where the students feel nurtured and cared for,” Torres said.
Torres stated she is hoping for the best. For instance, Torres experienced a huge success at San Ysidro High School, where she was a counselor at for 10 years, and she is hoping the same for BVH.
“But if I am talking more in regards to my other school because it’s just been started in Bonita Vista Highschool. We told our students and we start noticing them coming in. It does work and students love it. They let us know when they feel better to go to class,” Torres said.
BVH principal, Roman Del Rosario, Ed.D. wants to make sure that this program is going to continue and build into our school’s lifestyle. He wants to make sure students and staff take time out of our days to focus on their health.
“I think it is important that it’s not just a one-time thing, but that we institute it as part of our culture, that we take time to reflect and talk about the importance of relationships, talk about the importance of meditation, of self-care [and] exercise,” Del Rosario said.
Torres wants the program to grow. Counselors are currently working on other ways to help students feel secure in school. To achieve this, counselors have been trying to make their environment more welcoming and be more understanding of students’ stress. Torres wants to let students know that if ever they need time to breathe or talk to someone, students are always welcome in the counselors’ office.
“We are just going to provide the program more, where the environment would be more inviting. Maybe implement it to the teachers so they can do that for the students as well, so it could just grow. Not to discourage the studying, but to encourage that it is stressful for students to maintain a high level of academics and not be able to destress,” Torres said.
Counselors like Torres are encouraging students to find methods, like coming to counselors office whenever they feel like they need a break. They are available almost any time of the day and can help with student’s needs.
“Just let students know that if they do feel some kind of anxiousness or some kind of need for self-reflection, or just need to breathe they could always contact their counselors, or come in during nutrition or lunch. Sometimes after school or even before school and talk to us. We are here for that reason, not just schedule changes,” Torres said.