Third annual State of the Student focuses on fortitude

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With a day off from academic coursework, Northwood held its annual State of the Student, previously known as Wellness Day, on Nov. 2 dedicated to helping students cope with stress and live a healthier life. Highlights of the day included a video presentation compiled of teachers’ personal stories, late start to catch up on sleep, a one-hour lunch with free food and an after school performance at the Oak featuring Northwood alum and Young the Giant drummer François Comtois to help students de-stress.

“I think taking a break, having a school take a break, sends a positive message that it’s not all about getting grades or working as hard as you can. You have to take time for yourself,” science teacher Mickey Dickson said.

The day was centered around the theme of fortitude, or perseverance in adversity, with every department focusing on a different area, such as mental health, delayed gratification, time management and growing from failure.

“There are ordeals you’re gonna face throughout life that you can’t avoid, but how you deal with those hardships is what makes you a better person,” Dickson said. “We have to learn to overcome all kinds of things.”

Students began their day in homeroom where they watched a personal video of Northwood teachers sharing their own struggles while they grew up and how they overcame them. The video included facing stigmas of homosexuality, getting bullied, unfulfilling parental expectations, being trapped abusive relationships and living in poverty, serving to remind students that there are adults on campus who understand their struggles and are open to providing help.

“Especially as someone who participated in the video itself, I think it’s important to show students that they’re not alone,” Paris said. “Once you realize that you can be helped and not judged for whatever struggles you’re going through, the better you’re going to come out of it. Keeping your struggles inside and then realizing that you have to fight your own internal battle is not fun.”

The one-hour lunch on the field consisted of free food—Chick-fil-A, Little Caesar’s, Del Taco and Wendy’s—a puppy party, a large inflatable beach ball, a teachers versus students softball game and music.

Students enjoyed an after school performance at the Oak by Chamber Singers seniors Rebecca Halim, Sophia James and Ashley Wu with English teacher Tim Horrigan on the guitar, instrumental music teachers Ben Case and Whitney Tavlarides on the saxophone and Young the Giant member François Comtois on the drums.

State of the Student has been refined since its introduction as Wellness Day two years ago, but Northwood hopes to continuously improve it.

“I think State of the Student can easily become a conference where we can have outside speakers and workshop specialists from local colleges or professions,” Paris said. “Staff and students can volunteer to host a workshop or they may choose to participate. I think if teachers focus on their wellness, the students will too. A larger concert or a keynote speaker would be awesome to have as well.”

Although some students were doubtful about the usefulness of State of the Student at first, they have realized how meaningful it is to have a day to relax.

“At first, I did not understand the importance of State of the Student,” junior Martin Phelps said. “In fact, I even disliked it because I thought it was a waste of time. But after watching the heart-felt video and going through the activities throughout the day, I realized how important it was for people who struggle in their life. It brought a sense of comfort as I realized that everyone had times of loss and sorrow and that we were all in it together.”