Nutley High School Takes on a New Healthy Change
Nutley High School offers its students multiple opportunities to contribute to the community around them, while also providing great ways to earn volunteer hours. One of those opportunities is to be part of clubs at NHS like the Human Relations Club, where members do volunteer work around town. One of the volunteer jobs the club does is planning and hosting parties for the elders in Nutley's senior homes. The club also participated in Project Linus, a non-profit organization which creates and distributes homemade blankets to children in need. The club also takes part in the NHS's activities to bring students and families together such as the Night of Nations.
Despite its good work, the club will take a turn during the 2019-2020 school year and will morph into a club for students and teachers of NHS to unwind and learn how to cope with stress and anxiety.
Human Relations club advisors Mrs. Della Fave and Mrs. Coppola have been both working to change the school's environment for the better. A start to that was the mindful walk passes, which lead to the upcoming club. One reason for that change is the importance of knowing when things are not okay and understanding that there are multiple ways to allow yourself to be happy and learn how to unwind when stressed with school work and personal issues.
"In my classroom and in Mrs.Della Fave’s classroom, kids really need it (the mindful walk pass)," said Mrs. Coppola, an English teacher at NHS. "We noticed that right away and it sparked some of this thought to change the mission of the club. Students are taking to mindfulness and the idea that they are overwhelmed. We see you. We hear it."
Mrs. Coppola also speaks about the school itself and wanting combat stress for students and staff. NHS’s environment began to change with the new inspirational quotes painted in the hallways, bathrooms, and the cafeteria. There are art murals around the school now, developed this spring, which are colorful and positive.
The plan for next year's new club is to make a space where students are welcome to join whenever they need to reconnect with themselves. Noticing what is wrong and learning skills and strategies to help them cope with different situations is key to the mission of this club and its advisors.
Mrs. Della Fave and Mrs. Coppola's goal for the club is to, "have an ongoing theme for an ongoing project with monthly events," Mrs. Della Fave said.
Themes such as a drop-in meditation session during blocks of lunch, or even drop in breathing, are being explored. The club is going to be made for all students, as a way for all to get centered, relax, and go on with their day.
"Making it more of a place where all can unwind is the immediate change," said Mrs. Coppola. "It's open to all and students can drop without pressure. It's a matter of sometimes you need it, and sometimes you don't."
Currently, the new club does not have a name, although the club advisors have decided to leave that in the hands of the club members. The club members' first job, in September, will be to create a new name that can reach and attract other students around the school. "The club will do different activities, but also students will also come together and decide what a need in the student body is and will plan those events."
The club will be different and unique, with high hopes to serves all staff and students at NHS. "I think that we are very reactive people," said Mrs. Della Fave. "We're not identifying what's going on. Why do I feel this way? What can I do? What's my body trying to tell me? Am I overwhelmed? Do I need a break? That's what we want to do. We want people to understand what's going on, understand their feelings and be self-aware. Then make a positive decision based on that."