by Elizabeth Casey ’21
Just a couple months ago, the mental health project The Net was launched at Sherwood. The Net is a space in the school for stressed students to come in and decompress, and to learn about mental health. Every tuesday and thursday students come in to The Net in the morning, at lunch, and after school to deal with their daily stressors of rigorous high school life. The staff and students recognized that, especially with today’s current social climate, pressure and stress takes a large toll on teenagers, and they needed additional help. A combination of Principal Eric Minus’ hopes for a socially and emotionally healthy student population and a similarly aligned student suggestion sparked the creation of the new de-stressing area.
“This was not built to be a hangout for kids. This was really formed to meet some needs for our population of students who may be dealing with areas of anxiety and stress and other social/emotional challenges that may need a place to help them decompress and deal with some of those challenges,” explained Principal Eric Minus.
Along with scheduled therapeutic activities and educational sessions, there is also “open space time” in which students can simply go in, relax in a comfortable environment, and learn about the stressors they are dealing with. In order for students to increase their academic performance, it is crucial that they are mentally and emotionally stable.
“[Academic achievement and mental health] go hand in hand; you can’t be a great academic student if you are not balanced socially and emotionally,” said Principal Minus.
So far, there have been several events at The Net, including the introduction of therapy dogs(which prompted a huge turnout), meditation/breathing sessions, guest speakers, and education sessions both from Sherwood staff and Medstar Montgomery. Additionally, with the eminent stress that appears around exam season, there is talk about increasing the days that The Net is open as the AP exams come closer. Ideally, The Net will grow to be a collaborative organization with input from both the student body and the administration. Over the next semester, The Net is expected to grow with the incorporation of a student committee. This addition would help direct the type of help the students need and the topics they need and/or want help with.
“[the staff] really [wants to] work on community and supporting each other. I think that is a big takeaway too: we want students to support each other, we want to have a positive environment” commented science teacher Rebekah Harrison, who is the sponsor of The Net.