“We haven’t been able to do a lot of the things we would normally do so this is nice. I like just being able to hang out with my friends,” said senior Lily Pratt as she and a classmate played a fast-paced game of “UNO.”
For a little more than an hour Friday afternoon, students took a mental health break and had more than 25 activity options. Numbers were limited in each area so there was still space for social distancing within the rooms and hallways, but students were able to sign up with friends.
It was all designed as the culmination of a week of mental wellness activities helping students realize they are not alone in their feelings and understanding this year has been incredibly difficult.
Principal Tony Petersen said students and staff needed this mental break. “The best thing we could do is give kids a chance to take a mental break - give them a chance to laugh with their friends and calm their minds,” said Petersen. “We just wanted to give them options and provide nice distractions for everything that’s going on.”
Classrooms became spaces for card games, board games, coloring, and yoga. Some students learned to knit, create flower arrangements, or braid friendship bracelets. Some chose to just find a quiet place to read. The football field was turned into a competitive kickball game. The Main Street hallways in the school saw four-square and nine-square competitions and the ping pong tables were always in use.
TKHS teacher Tricia Rickert belted out “Love Shack” as she started karaoke in her classroom with students eagerly joining in. In another wing of the school, students brought their guitars and just were able to play together or by themselves for a little more than an hour. Sidewalks became giant canvases for chalk artists.
English teacher Scott Aldrich said he enjoyed seeing the students have fun. “There are so many things kids are worried about today. Yes - they get to see their friends at school, but they don’t get to choose who they eat lunch with or sit beside. They don’t have that social time as much and they really need that interaction,” said Aldrich who has been part of the Mental Wellness Team at the high school.
Friday’s activities were the culmination of a week highlighting mental wellness created by the TKHS Mental Wellness team. The team includes students, teachers and counselors and has been working all year to bring attention to mental wellness and understanding the challenges students face especially this year.
"Today just really gives them (students) time to be together and have that social interaction. With everything going on all year - they still need time to just be kids," said Aldrich.