Cookie Decorating & Self Care Part of Oxford Schools Support

Cookie Decorating & Self Care Part of Oxford Schools Support

(Lara Mossa, June 27, 2020)

OXFORD – It started with a cookie decorating contest. And it ended with a new resource for staff and students at Oxford Schools.

Since the annual spring carnival got canceled this year because of the Coronavirus, Oxford High School held a virtual Summer Send Off. The event – broadcast live on a YouTube channel – included social, mental and physical components. The cookie decorating contest pitted seniors against each other to make videos of themselves baking. To stress physical activity, staff members worked with a personal trainer to do a six-minute ab challenge. And to address mental health, the viewers saw a 15-minute presentation by Dr. Andrea Wittenborn, a professor at Michigan State University, who talked about anxiety during times of change and ways young adults can cope.

The entire production launched a new program and public website called OHS Connects that is aimed at helping students and staff maintain social, mental and physical well-being.

“We wanted people to be reminded that we still look out for each other and still care about our community and that we wanted everyone to focus on their wellness,” said Lauren Jasinski, an Oxford High School social studies teacher, who was instrumental in developing the program.

While the website currently focuses on challenges due to the Coronavirus, it will be continually updated throughout the year as needs change. Launched on May 27, the ongoing resource is divided into four sections: mental, physical, social and faculty. Every week, the administrators will post a social media challenge as a way for the public to stay connected.

“I think the school closure and the (Coronavirus) health crises has really shown a light on how important mental wellness and self-care is for students and the adults,” Jasinski said. “Sending that message to our community is a way to show that schools care about a lot more than just grades…These are things we would have been doing in person as professionals that we weren’t able to do online.”

Highlighting mental health issues is a great idea, according to Sarah Tyrrell who is a graduating senior.

“I think that it was probably the most important part of the fair…This pandemic is the first time it’s happened to any of us,” she said. “The fact that we made it a mental health focus was a really great decision.”

When the Coronavirus first closed schools, the students did not realize it would be their final day, she explained. Then, the staff canceled the athletic seasons, which was tough for Tyrrell, since she is a softball player.

“The day that they canceled school and the following days they canceled athletics was the worst of the pandemic,” she added. “It meant we couldn’t get a proper good-bye to our teachers and our fellow classmates.”

Since the statewide lockdown, Tyrrell has been doing her best to stay positive as well as physically and mentally fit, she said.

“I’ve been staying active and staying healthy, so I wouldn’t fall under a certain sadness,” she said.

As to the importance of providing resources for students, she said middle school students often don’t feel comfortable talking to teachers about bullying or other issues.

“I think that is truly awesome,” she said of the website. “Students sometimes don’t have the courage to speak up for themselves…Resources like that can honestly save a life.”

On the site there are free components like 10 Days of Happiness, How to Take a Technology Break, Deep Sleep Relaxation Music, Oakland University at Home Workouts, Yoga, resources to support teachers, and resources for suicide prevention and crisis support.  To access the website, go to www.bit.ly/ohsconnects.

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