Dear Liberty Bell Families,
With winter break fast approaching, I’ve heard from staff members, students, and parents that there’s a heightened level of anxiety among students.
This anxiety doesn’t appear to exist within one demographic, suggesting that while our students have done an impressive job of navigating the return to full-time, in-person instruction including eight classes, sports, social situations, etc., many of them are overwhelmed, tired, angry, and anxious. Simply put, the feelings associated with the pandemic are real and do not discriminate.
The return to full-time, in-person school doesn’t mean everything is ok. For many of us, myself included, 2021 has been as challenging, if not harder than 2020. Isolation has perpetuated itself through loneliness, a lack of belonging, and social insecurity. Students continue to report high levels of anxiety, many overwhelmed by the expectations set by themselves and others.
What can we do? In short, we as adults need to model excessive kindness, empathy, and love. We need to take time to ask our kids, “How are you doing?” and be ready to lean into their response. We need to give ourselves and our kids permission to feel and be vulnerable while supporting our students in doing the same.
In my weekly staff email, I stated, “…know you have my support and encouragement to blow up the next two weeks by trying something different, asking students what they need, doubling down on student connections, ensuring that all students are seen/heard, or simply taking your foot off the gas to focus on the social-emotional needs of our students.” This has led to some powerful conversations and ideas on how we can better support all students.
The United States Surgeon General recently released a comprehensive guide titled, “Protecting Youth Mental Health”. This guide is user-friendly and packed full of powerful resources. From the Table of Contents, you can navigate to specific action-oriented sections specific to young people, families, and adults.
In addition to these efforts, we’re exploring the feasibility of adding additional districtwide mental health support in 2022. If your child needs immediate mental health services, please contact Erika Spellman directly.
Now, more than ever before, our young people need to know they are not alone.
Principal, Liberty Bell High School