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The Student News Site of Northwood High School

The Northwood Howler

The Student News Site of Northwood High School

The Northwood Howler

Challenge Succeeded: Setting goals for Northwood

GEARING UP FOR SUCCESS: Christina Banagas, senior Kristen Lew, Marina Alburger and sophomore Lauryn Chew pose for a photo after their presentation on student well-being and engagement. (Photo courtesy of Archana Gima)

Students, faculty and parents represented Northwood at Stanford University’s Challenge Success Conference from Sept. 29 to 30 where they discussed how to promote student well-being on campus. 

Among various teachers and administrators who were invited, senior Kristen Lew and sophomore Lauryn Chew attended on behalf of Northwood’s Thrive club, which is a student branch of Northwood’s chapter of Challenge Success. Participants attended workshops such as the feeling of belonging, physical and emotional well-being, use of artificial intelligence, equitable grading and school schedule efficiency. 

“Challenge Success is centered around ways we can grow and develop the culture around Northwood to be more positive and inclusive,” Lew said. “Just from going to that conference, it made me really see that Northwood is doing so much more than other institutions.”

Challenge Success, a nonprofit organization funded by Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, helps schools prioritize “well-being, engagement and belonging.” The conference was a nationwide event where school representatives could learn how to support students’ social-emotional needs. 

“Several of the structures and systems that we have in place to support students have shaped our culture, which is something that we consistently aim to improve to ensure our students have a positive experience,” assistant principal Kortney Tambara said.

These structures include Northwood’s unique advisement program, which Thrive club advisor Marina Alburger and assistant vice principal Christina Banagas-Engelerdt presented to other attendees. The presentation focused on how advisement and fall conferences help students connect to adults and each other on campus to build a sense of belonging. 

While unaffiliated with Challenge Success, other Northwood programs, including link crew, peer tutoring, Hope Squad and tutorial also deliver on Challenge Success’s mission. Furthermore, Northwood Challenge Success also facilitates CSALT, a branch of Challenge Success dedicated to campus athletics. These resources are often not found at comparable high schools and are further supported by Northwood administrators.

From my discussions at the conference, it is apparent that not all schools have environments where the teachers feel fully supported by administration,” Plette said. “Northwood teachers feel like our administration fully supports our teachers when we implement new teaching strategies and provide support for students in finding balance and mitigating stress.”

Challenge Success at Northwood also executes an annual student survey to incorporate student feedback. In the past, this survey has implemented change, such as the fall/spring conference schedule that allows students to connect with their advisement teachers and counselors. This survey will be conducted again in the spring of 2024.

To raise awareness about the pressures students face, Challenge Success will be holding a dialogue night on November 7 from 5:45 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Students, parents and teachers can discuss the importance of communication within student-parent and peer-to-peer relationships. Additional information about this event can be found @nhs.thriveclub on Instagram.

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About the Contributor
Aishwarya Ramasubramanian is a junior and THO editor of The Northwood Howler. With an iced pumpkin spice chai latte in one hand and an Apple pencil in the other, she is likely the top user of Goodnotes at Northwood High School. 

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