RUSSELL, Pa. – Eisenhower held a Wellness Day on Wednesday to help students and staff find ways to relieve stress before starting a new semester.
The goal of the day was to give all students and staff a “fresh start” as the second semester began on Thursday. Based on early observations, the day met its goal.
“I think one of the biggest compliments that I got from a student was that today felt like a whole vibe. And I’m pretty sure that’s a good thing,” Eisenhower principal Amy Beers said.
Students spent most of the day attending seminars ranging in topics from jewelry making to outdoor survival to a cornhole tournament to preparing a Pinterest board for college. Teachers chose the seminar topics.
“We wanted everybody to kind of have a fresh start,” Eisenhower teacher Erin Richardson said. “We wanted our teachers and staff to have a time to introduce kids to something that they enjoy doing, maybe outside of the classroom. And let everybody start on a good note.”
By allowing teachers to choose the seminar topics, the day also allowed students to examine a wide range of topics.
“Finding something that you’re interested in, whether it’s physical fitness, mental health, or a combination of both, especially this time of year in Pennsylvania, is really a great thing to keep your mental and emotional health well-being as well as your physical well being,” Richardson said. “The students are loving it. We had an epic cornhole tournament this morning. We have some volleyball tournaments this afternoon, students were able to sign up for whatever interested them and they are very engaged and happy.”
Beers spearheaded the day as part of an initiative to improve school culture.
“We’re working on school culture, and all of those improvements and noticing things that we think that students need,” Beers said. “And we find that when we’re coming in nearest to the grade time, they get very stressed out. And so we spend a lot of time talking to them about ways to de-stress, decompress, find something that they love to do, and then perhaps come back to things. So as we’re moving into a second semester, plus, it’s time for grades, and they’re feeling a little bit stressed about that. We wanted to kind of put that period on the end of the semester.”
The day’s structure also allowed students and staff to see each other in a new way.
“I also think it’s giving everyone an opportunity to see one another in a different light,” Beers said. “You know, we have math teachers working completely out of their element, we have special education teachers who are working with regular education students, we have the elementary school coming up and working with a high school, it’s just an opportunity for, you know, just to see someone a little bit differently, and maybe for them to be able to express their interests and to help them out that distressing process.”
Just before lunch, the school embarked on another first. An assembly attended by every student in grades K – 12.
“So that was the first time that we had kindergarten through 12th grade together in the same place,” Beers said. “It was nice. It was nice to see how many students are truly in this building. It also makes it a little overwhelming to see how many kids that the administrators are in charge of along with the teachers, of course, throughout the day.”
During the assembly, varsity cheerleaders taught the elementary students how to do the Eisenhower battle cry. The assembly also included a hula hoop competition, a group lip-synch, and some fun with balloons.
“I think that the kindergarteners, I was surprised how into it they were,” Beers said. “I thought they might be a little frightened. But they were really just excited. I think the teachers helped to prepare them for coming into that environment over on the big side of this, you know where the big kids are. And then I was really pleasantly surprised with the middle and high school students because they really acted as mentors. And usually, when we get into that gym, the kids are wild, appropriately so, but wild during pep assemblies and events like that, but they’ve really allowed the elementary to shine in that moment. And I thought that that showed a lot of maturity on their part.”
Given the success and positive feedback, Beers said this event is likely to be held again in the future.
“As long as the faculty and staff are on board, I am happy to provide a day like this,” Beers said. “You know, we have a lot of curriculum that we need to accomplish and a lot of different things that have to happen in a school especially when you’re talking about your seniors that are you know, in the last five and a half months of school. But this day, I think this is important because it sets the tone and how much we care about them for the second semester. So If the teachers are willing we’ll do it again we’ll do it again next year for sure.”