Health and Wellness at Beacon High School
Beacon High School strives to be a safe, comfortable, and welcoming environment that is conducive to learning. Recognizing that high school can be stressful for many students, Beacon High School nurse Peggy Quilty, RN, MSN has created a set of resources for maintaining health and wellness during the school day. These resources encourage the development of new skills for self-regulation and stress reduction, critical skills that students can use for the rest of their lives as they meet new challenges.
For some students, stress and anxiety can become overwhelming and make it extremely difficult to contribute productively to a class discussion or complete an exam. Students may need a small amount of time to relax and refocus their energy. At Beacon, each classroom has a designated space that students can use to “Take Five” when they need to temporarily disengage from the class for five minutes without having to leave the room. When students occasionally need to leave the class to Take Five they are accompanied by a staff person who helps them explore ways to self regulate their stress. A short walk, some fresh air, or some relaxation, breathing, or acupressure in a quiet area can usually help a student to regain their focus.
The Wellness Room
When students arrive at the nurse’s office with physical symptoms that are stress-related, it offers an opportunity to talk about the mind-body connection and explore ways for manage their symptoms using some self-regulation techniques. These techniques can be used in the quiet privacy of the Wellness Room, a designated space designed to facilitate stress reduction during the school day. The Wellness Room is a peaceful oasis where students can use relaxation exercises, aromatherapy, guided imagery, listen to peaceful music or ambient nature sounds. Experimentation with a wide range of strategies can help students learn what methods work for them for the management of stress at school and in other settings. Beacon High School is one of the only schools in the country that has created a space with the sole purpose of stress reduction.
“License to Chill”
One of the therapy groups integrated into the Beacon curriculum is a group called “License to Chill” where students share and discuss stress reduction techniques and the ways “to chill,” alone or with friends, that have helped them to thrive and be successful. Topics include meditation, relaxation breathing, and healthy eating and exercise. The group was created partly in response to a recent study showing that students exposed to a relaxation response-based curriculum experienced higher grade point averages, increased self -esteem, decreased psychological distress, less aggressive behavior, improved work habits, and better attendance.
During the daily physical activity period, Beacon students can learn and practice yoga as another self-regulation strategy for reducing stress. Students are encouraged to grab a yoga mat during free time throughout the day to help them to relax, stretch, and reenergize.