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On Thursday, January 28, Averill Park High School and Algonquin Middle School held their inaugural Warrior Wellness Day.

This fully virtual event focused on giving students and parents ways to manage their social, emotional and physical well-being. Thanks to a grant provided by the Averill Park Education Foundation, the day included a viewing and discussion of the film “Angst,” which helps raise awareness around topics of anxiety and mental health.

“While we have always placed a high emphasis on the social-emotional well-being of our students, this past year has really put a spotlight on how big of an issue this topic is. The pandemic has made it more challenging for students to connect with their school community, which has led to heightened stress and anxiety in students, and parents, across the country. Our inaugural Warrior Wellness Day seeks to support both students and parents, and we hope that they may learn strategies to improve their well-being if they find themselves struggling.”

Breakout sessions at the middle school level included Identifying Mental Illness in Our Peers and What to do About it; Writing Through Your Feelings; Fun With Functional Fitness; Bucket Drumming; Coping With Loss; Yoga & Mindfullness; and much more. There were also Q&A sessions for both parents and students.

“Our students are growing up during this challenging time of COVID-19. The teachers and school staff here want to show our students that we are here for them beyond just providing for their academic needs,” Middle School Principal Robert Messia said. “In the days ahead, we hope that students use the skills they learn today to help support their mental and social-emotional health. Our district has a long history of supporting whole-child education and this program is the latest extension of that work.”

Mr. Messia added that the day wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of the Averill Park Education Foundation, school social worker Linda Bille, Grade 8 teacher Chris Anderson, High School Assistant Principal Rebecca Leach, and many more.

At the high school, students also had a full day of presentations and were able to select from sessions that included Unlocking Your Brain’s Super Powers; Resiliency During COVID; Managing Grief and Loss; Stress Busting Yoga; Social Justice Circle; Improving Mental Health; and more.

“During a year which has presented our students, and entire school community, with so many unique challenges and pressures, we felt it was important to stop, take a breath, and spend a full day focused on our holistic well-being as individuals,” High School Principal Heath Quiles said. “It’s our hope that at the end of this day our students and staff will walk away with a renewed focus on self-care, and hopefully an array of fresh ideas, techniques, and strategies to take better care of ourselves as we head into the second half of the 20-21 school year.”

Wellness Day morning announcement slides

students in a virtual classroom