Off to a Healthy Start: Purposeful Wellness for Severn Ninth Graders
How many times have you read or heard the term “self-care” in the past year? It has become a common phrase in popular American culture and for good reason. Holistic wellness, mind and body, is a critical part of one’s happiness, well-being and potential to succeed in the world. Severn's 9th-grade Health and Wellness program teaches our students to develop, maintain and advocate for their own physical, social and emotional health. It's an environment where they feel comfortable to share with their peers, speak up for themselves, and establish healthy habits now and for the long term.
What is Our Health and Wellness Curriculum?
Our Health and Wellness program provides our students with skills, content, and attitudes to make informed decisions about their behaviors and feel confident about their choices. We encourage them to think critically about common issues related to adolescent physical and emotional health and teach the strategies they need to take ownership of their own long-term health and well-being. Through an intentional set of classes taught by expert faculty, our students learn to view physical, social and emotional wellness as an ongoing part of their development.
“This program was helpful because it made me aware of the repercussions possible with bad relationships and poor mental and physical health. We were given great ways to handle relationships — to help us determine whether they are stable or not. We also learned how to maintain a good diet, how to maintain physical health, and how to keep a well-conditioned mindset. It was a nice atmosphere to be in; we were able to ask questions openly, but also sometimes anonymously." — Solana Page ‘20 (completed the full program last year)
"The program is important because it helps kids be more aware of themselves and other people. Between the lessons taught by Ms. Anderson, Ms. De Falco, and Mr. Mahoney and those taught by Ms. Straub and Mr. Laffey, all of the content we learned helps us as individuals. Especially in high school, kids become more focused on themselves and these lessons help us do so in a healthy and responsible way." — Anonymous 9th-grade student, class of 2020 (completed the full program last year)
Relevant for Our Students
Upper School counselor Ms. Sam Straub developed our Health and Wellness program in collaboration with coaches, Athletic Trainers and teachers Ms. Michelle Anderson, Ms. Erin De Falco, and Mr. Dan Mahoney. Each member of our team brings their unique expertise to the table to make sure our students take this learning seriously. They are incredibly intentional about the curriculum and flow of classes during the year. From an introduction to physical fitness and nutrition to strategies for stress and time management, these classes address real issues that our students face each day.
"The classes were all important, but the one that has had the most impact on me and doesn't get talked about as much is sexual and gender identity. This topic is important for a few reasons. In high school, you begin figuring out who you are so knowing that there is a bubble for you can be very helpful. Also, you begin learning how to work with others who are different than you at this time. Bullying based on gender identity is still a big problem that needs to be addressed and it is good to even just skim the surface of this conversation. For a school like Severn, or schools in general, this may not be a subject that gets talked about at home.” — Robin Howie ‘20 (completed the full program last year)
“I thought that the relationships topic was the most important because you can relate it to your daily life. Whether it be emotional or physical abuse, it is important to understand what that is and know how and when to get out of a hurtful relationship...especially for high schoolers.” — Delaney Dabrowka ‘20 (completed the full program last year)
Our health and wellness team works to improve the program each year and encourages student feedback to make sure the content and format of their teaching is relevant and useful for our students.
“At the end of the year we give every ninth grader a survey and the feedback is overwhelmingly positive. We ask them to share their favorite lesson during the year and there is often a big variety. That’s how we know the program is working for our community of students. If there isn’t a lesson that stands out as a dud or the best, we are serving the needs of our students across the board. This hasn’t always been the case. There are times when we have gotten feedback that wasn’t so great so we tweaked our plan and shifted our focus. We take student feedback seriously.” — Ms. Sam Straub