Mid-Pacific prioritizes student well-being with new Character Strong program

Willow Hutchison, Staff Writer

“Have a positive self-image!” “Improve your relationships with your friends.” School is tough, but just cope with the pressure and stress because you have to, right? I guarantee you’ve heard this before. Where do we even learn the social and emotional skills needed to cope with stress?

Willow Hutchison

Nowadays, there are numerous expectations placed on teenagers. It gets incredibly frustrating when parents or even teachers expect us to instinctively know how to navigate a world that is constantly throwing things our way. Outsiders see it as though nothing impacts us.

The word “balance” strikes me in every conversation as though it is the answer to every woe, but how does one find a place to remain upright and steady in a space full of inconstancy? Don’t even get me started on motivation when I’m in my 10 a.m. science class from my bedroom wondering how we shifted from being alert and prepared in a classroom of peers to wondering if I could turn my camera off to change out of my pajamas. But we have to, right? Keep on going and just pretending that a pandemic didn’t turn everyone’s life upside down because we have an assignment due in a couple hours. How does one deal with the stress of life and “balance’’ it with the stress of school?

Mid-Pacific saw the need to address this and found a solution in a program called Character Strong.

Mid-Pacific is always looking out for their students beyond the classroom. Students are more than just a grade, and there are many times a simple acknowledgement by a teacher or even principal in the morning was a breath of fresh air in a fog full of stress. Our school cares about students as a whole and focuses on our social and emotional well-being, in addition to our successes in the learning environment. I don’t know about you, but I’m happy to know that there is someone looking out for all of us through the Mid-Pacific Character Strong program.

Character Strong offers “comprehensive solutions for effective, sustainable school culture” according to the company website. This program has been a refreshing way to change my perspective because I have learned so much on how to deal with stress. One thing that stood out was writing out daily tasks. One morning the time 8:09 a.m. shined brightly from my clock and I quickly realized my Zoom class started at 8:10 a.m. I was feeling panicked and annoyed that school had been reduced to logging on a computer when previously we arrived at school with enough time to take a deep breath before our day began. It wasn’t a good way to start off my day, but as we began the lesson I wrote down my worries on paper in front of me, and seeing it written down lightened the stress I had felt. It all seemed doable for once. I felt ready to conquer the day.

You’re probably wondering how writing your daily tasks on a piece of paper can lead to significant improvements in your social and emotional skills. Writing things down puts your thoughts into a perspective. Dealing with stress is not insurmountable when you write it on a piece of paper as it allows you see your feelings through a different lens.

Other seniors said they have experienced feelings like stress and other overwhelming emotions during this foreign virtual learning environment.

“Teaching social/emotional skills across the nation should be normalized because they involve necessary concepts needed to be successful throughout life,” said senior Paige Ho who, like all of us, said she is feeling slightly overwhelmed.

The virtual environment is confining to most of us and at times is mentally exhausting.

“This program has helped me cope with stress because it helps show that I am not alone,” said Ho.

Overall it has improved Ho’s mindset and positive outlook on her life.

“It has helped to have me focus on the small things I am grateful for, making my daily attitude more positive,” she said.

Am I still going to have those days where I feel unmotivated and lazy? Of course. We all are. But ever since I have begun to learn coping skills in the activity that causes the majority of my stress, now I can acknowledge where it stems from instead of feeling uneasy all the time. And in my professional recommendation as a teenager (reliable I know right), take a nap during your lunch when it is needed. If you develop a headache from staring at your screen, take a walk outside and look at the beautiful sky or even feel the warm sun against your skin. The change in scenery can work wonders.

Putting in the effort in everything you do takes a lot of perseverance and determination and if no one has said it to you yet, I am proud of you! Next time you think you will just be in “homeroom”, pay attention and maybe you will learn something that will change the course of your day and help you relieve some of the overwhelming stress you may feel.