Challenging success

Varun Vishnubhotla, Staff Writer

STATE OF THE STUDENT – Northwood students typically spend late nights cramming for a test or submitting an essay at 11:59 p.m.. To promote healthier habits among Timberwolves, the Northwood administration partnered with Challenge Success, an organization advocating for academic health awareness since 2017, a fellowship that has proved meaningful for the last two years.

English teacher Christina Banagas, a member of the Northwood Challenge Success team, started her health conscious approach to teaching after witnessing the student and faculty struggle with balancing their professional and personal lives. This idea came to the forefront at the annual WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) conference held in the spring.

“I think we all have some perfectionist tendencies and they tend to throw the balance out of our lives,” Banagas said. “We heard about Challenge Success from other educators, so we went to Stanford for a conference about it.”

It’s not just teachers who are involved in Challenge Success. An ASB-centered team, including senior Leah Kong, spreads information about academic wellness through student events such as State of the Student (SOS). Although SOS began in 2014, years before the Challenge Success partnership, the groups now work together to preach balance in students’ lives. This year, efforts are being made to extend the SOS message beyond just the single day, Events later in the year will allow for a break in the stressful school environment.

“To address the ‘Better Together’ theme of State of the Student, other members of the Academic Committee and I are working with teachers to incorporate their story into a panel or speech at the Pride of the Pack assembly instead of a traditionally paid speaker, so that the teachers are more connected with the students,” Kong said.

School community-bonding occasions will try and instill a healthy balance between stress and enjoyment. Contrary to the Northwood stereotypical student perception of school, Northwood students should place school at the helm of academic success. Disregarding health for student academic achievement will bring about long term consequences, a fear of the faculty at Northwood.

The goal for Northwood’s faculty is for students to maintain a healthy balance between stress and school. A transition from submitting papers at 11:59 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. is a step in the right direction and is embraced by all. As an address to the students, do not be afraid to reach out to teachers as they are there for academic success and to provide a helping hand. The next Challenge Success meeting is on Apr. 25 at Stanford University, where the teachers will build off the progress to create a health-conscious learning environment for students. Such initatives are bound to change stereotypes about Northwood.