Hononegah Highlights

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Hononegah Highlights

not hide." Houghton's eyes began to stray, looking at the desk, currently six feet from her's. "I have to interact with them more." She explained that her reasoning behind this was to make sure that they couldn't hide away and su ff er alone, she wanted to break open their shell and make them rid of all the worries in their life. A t er meeting with Mrs. Houghton, I re- turned a day later to interview another former teacher of mine, Willowbrook's health and PE teacher, Mrs. Ball. Sitting in her white o ff ice, lined with various sports ball cutouts, various workouts, and a pile of gym clothes to borrow, I settle in and begin the interview. I asked her the same question as Houghton received, "what do you do when you see a kid struggling?" Ball looked at me and answered with no hesitation, "if a kid comes to me and we can't help, we will find or direct them to someone who can. Because kids come to us a lot, whether it be about something that happened be- fore class or something they heard in the halls." Mrs. Ball answered with no doubt and continued to talk about how kids shouldn't be afraid to "snitch" on one another, because in this instance, the snitch could become a savior. Barczuk was quick to answer this ques- tion as well. She is a strong advocate for mental health awareness and sui- cide prevention, stating that she tries to make it known to everyone that she is always willing to talk and be there for someone in need. She doesn't want kids to feel ashamed of how they feel, because it is natural and happens to everyone. Following in the wide variety of inter- views, my last interviewee was Hon- onegah Community High School princi- pal, Mr. Dougherty. I met Mr. Dougherty in his pale-yellow o ff ice. Papers clut- tered his desk, many tabs were open on his screen, and a multitude of acad- emic books lined his bookshelves. He started by stating that he believes all administrators and teachers at Hon- onegah "can see a student struggling in general appearance. Most generally when we see this, we go over, stop them, and give them a simple 'How are you doing today?' We like to stop and check on the students." All of these individuals were interested and passionate about this topic, and all were more than eager to answer my questions, even with how bizarre or deep they were. I asked all of the participants "what have you done to help a student or sta ff member in need?" All had very dif- ferent answers.

Mrs. Ball and her colleague Ms. Craig had created "WOW Days" at Willow- brook for students and sta ff to enjoy. These days happened every Friday, and contained stations that the stu- dents would move from place to place in. That day's activities contained bad- minton, soccer, four-square, jump rope, and a station on social-emotional wellness. This week's station about so- cial-emotional awareness was about gratitude, and every week contains a di ff erent topic. "[Willowbrook] put out a survey for students, teachers, and parents, and all said they wanted to see more social- emotional learning" in the school, Ball stated. Due to the CoronaVirus, Willow- brook no longer has gym classes, mak- ing Mrs. Ball and Ms. Craig long term subs, in case a teacher gets sick. With lots of open time on their hands, these ladies wanted to help out the school and environment to expand their knowledge on social and emo- tional wellness. "WOW puts it all to- gether; kids are getting endorphins, go- ing out into the fresh air, and getting vi- tamin D. We're all going outside, and the kids are having fun." Adding on to the addition of WOW days into the curriculum, Mrs. Ball and Ms. Craig created "The Breakroom," a web- site for the students to visit to take a break from schoolwork. It contains art games, typing games, social studies games, and allows students to make Kahoots to play with friends. The web- site has been a success and a great as- set this year, according to Ball. Mr. Dougherty's response to this ques- tion was similar to Mrs. Ball's; he too hoped to increase the amount of social-emotional learning in the class- room but was not quite there yet. A current group at Hononegah, the Pro- fessional Learning Community Guiding Coalition (PLCGC) was at work in Hon- onegah to meet with teachers and find the most e ff ective and e ff icient way to work this type of education into the everyday lives of students. While not in full motion yet, Mr. Dougherty said this was a snowball in motion, hoping to turn into something large soon. While these teachers had done great things, Mrs. Houghton's response was my favorite, and most heartwarming. She discusses a student who was strug- gling in her class last year. "I rang a doorbell. So I know not everybody does, but I can wholeheartedly tell you, that that moment was the game- changer for that student." Houghton had tried to catch this student o ff guard on purpose last year, "it was af- ter school one day, I could tell some- thing was dark… so once the day was

BLM movement? A: My perspective on the BLM move- ment is that it's a good thing, showing awareness for all people of color. A lot of people against the movement think it's to put black people on a higher pedestal, but it's really meant to show the indi ff erence we are facing and say- ing, "Hey, in case you forgot, we matter too so don't treat us like we don't." Q : How h a s i t a ff e c t e d y o u personally? A: Personally the BLM movement has honestly had non-colored people treat me so much nicer. I haven't had peers or really any people be so cautious with what they say to me nor been so careful with how they treat me. A: Honestly, before the BLM movement I didn't even know too much about the injustice black people were facing, es- pecially with being killed for no reason by cops, but I do remember seeing something about it a few years ago. I just never submerged myself with what was going on. A: I think the BLM movement is totally necessary. How long will people of dif- ferent genders, cultures, ethnicities, etc. have to go through pain until someone finally says, "Enough is enough?" 2020 is the year of change. It's so unfair how people of color are treated. Q: Has it brought anything to light for you? Q: Do you think the BLM movement is necessary? Q: Do you think the BLM movement is e ff ective? A: The BLM is being e ff ective in some ways, but it has not taken in its full ef- fect yet. It's going to take someone in a higher position to really set in action and fix this. A: I don't think anything has changed because if something did then we wouldn't even need this movement in the first place. As far as for the future, I think it will get better but racism doesn't really just "die out". People will have their opinions forever, but laws should be set to prevent those people from hurting others over things they cannot control. Source: Kaur, Harmeet. "About 93% of Racial Justice Protests in the US Have Been Peaceful, a New Report Finds." CNN, Ca- ble News Network, 4 Sept. 2020, www.c- nn.com/2020/09/04/us/blm-protests- peaceful-report-trnd/index.htm l ∎ Q: Do you think anything will change/has changed?

Advocating for Mental Health in Schools

By Lauren Billings

According to save.org, suicide is the second-highest cause of death in peo- ple fi t een to twenty-four years of age. 48,300 people committed suicide last year, and the numbers are only rising; an increase of twenty percent from 2000. Depression, stress, and family is- sues are common causes of suicide, which get magnified in the high school setting. Classes are stressful and take a signifi- cant amount of time. College prepara- tion and applications put stress on stu- dents, as well as the constant pressure from peers to fit in causes a great deal of stress on students. I decided to go around and ask two teachers, a principal, and a student about how they feel schools are advo- cating for mental health awareness and suicide prevention. Leah Barczuk, a senior at Hononegah Community High School, faced me while I sat in my father's forest green o ff ice. Leah is someone who was af- fected by suicide in her life and is a great advocator for mental health awareness. Surrounded by tools of all kinds and hunting posters, I dive into this deep topic of mental health in teens. Shocked when I told her the sta- tistics from save.org, she sighed and responded that we, as a community, could do better in our e ff orts in aiding mental health awareness. Mrs. Houghton, a Willowbrook Middle School teacher, met me in her class- room, one that I had sat in day to day when I attended there. Mrs. Houghton is one of the most caring people I've ever met, and she is someone I wanted to interview because she cares about her students in a compassionate and unique way. Her room is lined with informational posters, pillows of all kinds, and her fa- vorite family pictures, her room is a room that makes you feel at home in a school. I began the questioning of how she knows when a kid is struggling. "There's a complete withdrawal from life, a glazed over look in their eyes," she began to tell me. She followed on with a tale of how she deals with kids who are struggling, or she knows need more attention. "I base my seating chart around them… I put them closer to me, and the placement makes them

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