by Savannah Greaney ’21
Very few, if any, students enjoy a town hall meeting. But who can blame them? Sherwood’s grade-level meeting at the start of the school year consisted of Principal Eric Minus going on for 30 minutes about the school’s latest ratings, test scores, graduation rates, etc. The principals aren’t always at fault, though. Often times, they are directed by the county or state to worry about where their school is on rankings or to focus on getting their graduation rates to raise by a percentage point. If that is what MCPS is worried about, there is hardly any room left for principals and their school staff to worry about the students’ well being.
But isn’t that supposed to be the most important part? Once a year counselors come in to discuss mental illness and student wellness, but is 45 minutes of looking at a PowerPoint really enough? A couple years ago Superintendent Jack Smith had the idea of “Be Well 365” to ensure that there would be a focus on students’ mental health. It preaches success, academic achievement, and, most importantly, the healthiness of all students. Although he had the idea a while ago, it only started to be implemented this year. At many schools, such as Sherwood, teachers had never even heard of Be Well 365 until they were taught about it in their training this year. Students have still never heard of it, yet alone seen its implementation in school. While the school year is still early, you also have to ask yourself this question … why start implementing this supposedly “great” program now when Smith created it years ago? Superintendent Smith stated himself that, “Student learning is our purpose, and we know that students perform better academically when they are healthy in body, mind and spirit.” But schools have gotten so caught up in meeting certain percentages, that they have forgotten that if they focused a little more on how to make school less stressful for kids, meeting those data points may be a little easier to do. They also tend to forget that school is not students’ entire lives. Many people have problems at home, tiring schedules, and mental health issues that adds to the stress school puts on them.
From my own experience, I had to take a month out of school last year, and when I returned, I was told that my attendance needed to improve. Students have a lot going on, and sometimes when one acts out, starts missing school, or there is a noticeable decrease in their grades, schools should focus more on why that may be happening rather than how it will affect their ratings, test scores, and graduation rates.