A Day to De-Stress

Wellness Wednesdays offer students and staff time to reflect, relax, and recharge — unless their homework interferes.

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photo courtesy of PUSH.health

The wellness of students has been a lingering concern for the administration this school year.

Sally Cho, Staff Writer

Wednesday typically falls short on the list of favorite days of the week. The dreaded “hump day” earned its name because it’s essentially the obstacle in the middle of the work week one must get over to reach the weekend.

But nothing has been typical about this school year, Wednesdays included.

As North Allegheny moved to full remote instruction in early December, the administration implemented Wellness Wednesdays to help the students who have struggled with online learning. 

On Wednesdays, high school students now follow a special schedule designed to leave time at the end of the school day from 12:30-2:30 for students to partake in Wellness Wednesday activities. According to the administration’s email sent out to parents and students, this time can be used for students to meet with teachers for support, independently work on assignments, meet with counselors, and more.

Many students feel satisfied with this decision.

“I think Wellness Wednesdays really started to show that the school board is finally listening to the fact that remote learning is so difficult,” junior Abby Rapp said. “I think it will be beneficial to people who need extra help.”

Teachers, too, are in support of Wellness Wednesdays.

Unstructured time and choice are necessary. Stopping to breathe too often gets neglected.”

— Mr. Schall, AP Psychology

“I think this is a great move that I would encourage beyond remote instruction,” AP Psychology teacher Mr. Schall said. “Unstructured time and choice are necessary. Stopping to breathe too often gets neglected.”

However, some students feel that Wellness Wednesday does not actually solve the challenges of remote learning.

“While I am really glad North Allegheny is attempting to focus on their students’ mental health, this in many ways seems like they’re just trying to avoid the actual problem,” junior Morgan Nash said. “That is particularly evident in the insane workload we continue to receive on a daily basis.”

Junior Seys Walker echoed these sentiments.

“Wellness Wednesday ultimately falls short of the main issue at hand: the pure amount of homework we are given,” he explained. “Teachers haven’t adapted their courses to work with the new platform and some teachers have decided that we need to do ridiculous amounts of work every night.”

Some students even feel that Wellness Wednesday makes existing struggles worse.

“Teachers are just going to assign more homework to make up for less class time,” junior Matthew Koah said. 

Teachers are just going to assign more homework to make up for less class time.”

— Matthew Koah, junior

Despite varying thoughts from students, the first two Wellness Wednesdays occurred in December with no substantial issues. Teachers offered a diverse array of options to students for how they could spend their Wellness Wednesday.

Mrs. Harrell, an Honors Physics teacher at NASH, provided extra assistance with class material for her students.

I had several students join me on the first Wellness Wednesday for some individual help,” she said. “I was able to help students one-on-one or in pairs and focus on their individual needs.”

Mr. Schall is following a different route with Wellness Wednesdays.

I made office hours available, but I really encouraged students to get away from their computers,” he said. “I encouraged them to move, to smile, to listen to a good song or read a book, and to drink some water. They get enough of me throughout the week.”

Physical education teacher Mrs. Winters has taken a unique approach to Wellness Wednesdays by holding yoga classes for students.

I decided on yoga for Wellness Wednesdays because high school can be really stressful for teenagers, especially during this pandemic,” she explained. “The benefits of practicing yoga are numerous, whether it is related to the mind or body.”

Winters stresses the importance of wellness through her yoga classes.

“Yoga helps teenagers to have a better understanding of their mental and emotional health and to be able to deal with undesired situations in a peaceful way,” she said.

Although met with differing opinions, Wellness Wednesdays will continue indefinitely and perhaps even become a regular part of students’ schedules at North Allegheny as the benefits are weighed. 

“I think that having Wellness Wednesdays can be a wonderful way to provide choice and flexibility for students,” Harrell said. “Mental health is so important, and I appreciate that there is an effort to address it while still being respectful of class time.”