The eighth-graders in DeMasi Middle School’s Green House recently returned from spring to participate in “Mindful Monday.
They spent the day kickboxing, meditating, making stress balls and silent fidget spinners and doing yoga, all in the name of learning anxiety and stress management techniques to help them get through the hectic last months of school and prepare them for high school.
Mindful Monday evolved from a lunch-time yoga session eighth-grade language arts teacher Lauren McGarrigle began hosting after hearing from students that they felt tense, anxious and stressed.
She had just become a certified yoga instructor and thought it would help students. McGarrigle spoke with eighth-grade math teacher Rebecca Varner, who also is a kickboxing instructor, and the two took the idea of a “Mindful Monday” to the other eighth-grade teachers in Green House.
When Beth Mikolajczyk, a school counselor, heard about the idea, she worked with the faculty to schedule all of the activities.
“We wanted to help the students find their own niche for dealing with stress,” Mikolajczyk said. “The students really appreciated this opportunity, and are enjoying the activities. A number of students have thanked me for helping to arrange for this day.”
In addition to the yoga, kickboxing, and making silent fidget spinners and their own stress balls, the students also learned breathing and meditation techniques, how to use something like coloring to relieve stress and produced vision boards in the workshops throughout the day.
In the workshop on developing a vision board, students were instructed to focus on their goals and what activities it would take to achieve those goals. Students were told to focus on the next year – how could they work to achieve their immediate goals and how they would like to grow and develop in the next year.
“This was an important day for the students in the eighth-grade Green House,” DeMasi Schools Principal Irene Romanelli said. “Our teachers saw a need. They were observing the energy levels of their classes, hearing what students were saying. The teachers wanted to collaborate to find a way to help the students achieve a peaceful and reflective end to the school year, and prepare them for beginning high school next year. This was a lot of work for the teachers, but they were really committed to helping our students end the year centered and capable of looking ahead with less anxiety by giving them options and techniques for dealing with stress.”