Chautauqua Lake Central School welcomed guest presenters from the University of Rochester, Buffalo State University, SUNY Fredonia and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, along with representatives of the Chautauqua Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Council (CASAC) and other county agencies and businesses, to lead a full day of wellness activities in early February.
Student members of the Sources of Strength (SOS) program worked with advisors Ashley Muscarella and Emily Perkins to select presentations, workshops and demonstrations on a wide range of topics. Then the SOS students hosted Wellness Day, directing presenters to their assigned classrooms and making sure they had everything they needed for the day. Every student, from grade 7 through 12, selected seven workshops from the menu of 22 choices to fill his or her own Wellness Day schedule.
All secondary school students started the day at a character education assembly by Nels Ross of In Jest. Based on the principle that every person is valuable, he presented a fun-filled, motivational and thought-provoking performance that featured juggling and other physical feats. He demonstrated the ABCs of good character: Have a positive Attitude, always do your Best, and have the Courage to ask for help and offer help to others. He challenged students to make their own choices and set their own goals, considering "Is it worthwhile?" Then make a plan to reach those goals.
Chautauqua Lake sophomore Victoria McKane learns valuable life lessons by juggling scarves under the tutelage of Nels Ross of In Jest. The activity was one of 22 workshops and presentations planned by student members of Sources of Strength for Wellness Day for all students in grades 7-12.
In Jest carried out the themes of excellence, respect, responsibility and life choices in a series of 40-minute workshops. Students who chose the In Jest sessions tried their hands at balancing peacock feathers and juggling scarves and beanbags, always with the goal of doing one's best. Among the lessons were these:
Be willing to try. Overcome your fear of foolishness.
Learn from your mistakes, and learn from the mistakes of others, "because you won't live long enough to make them all yourself!"
Set your own goals. See if you can do just a little bit more.
Focus on your target, your goals. Attitude is about where you focus.
Everyone learns at their own pace.
If you say "I can't," follow with "yet."
Learn to adjust wherever you lack flexibility. In life, as in juggling, you must learn to adjust.
A sense of humor is how attitude makes a difference. It is not the situations we face that matter most, but how we respond.
Have fun! Whether learning juggling or tackling any other goal, enjoy the experience.
Several workshops focused on the topics of suicide prevention, helping peers through tough times, and identifying trusted adults. These, along with awareness of substance abuse problems and anti-bullying efforts, are the cornerstones of the Sources of Strength program at CLCS.
Workshops to encourage an active lifestyle included kickboxing, led by Rocky Signorino of Westfield Martial Arts; yoga with Julie Logan of Mayville; dance with Katie Jacobs of Pointe Chautauqua Dance, and P90X with Chautauqua Lake teacher Eric Schuster.
SUNY Fredonia's S.T.E.P.S. (Students Teaching Equals Positive Sexuality) peer education team presented skits introducing the steps to decision-making. Bob Mead-Colegrove of Buffalo State taught about the transition from high school to college. A group of presenters from Mission Meadows in Dewittville led team building exercises; community volunteers taught about group dynamics and effective leadership; guests from CASAC spoke about substance abuse and the impact of sugary drinks on health; and Sgt. Kirk Lyon, of the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Department, taught about teens and the law, including the use and misuse of social media.
Alycia Johnson of Chautauqua County Mental Health, who staffs a full-time satellite mental health office in the school, led guided meditation workshops. Social worker Ryan Smith of Family Service of the Chautauqua Region, Inc., gave tips on boosting self esteem. Nicholas Rizzo of Chef To Go catering taught healthy cooking. Additional Chautauqua Lake staff led sessions on such diverse topics as on knitting for relaxation, responsible use of social media, and personal hygiene.
All students came together at the end of the day for a pep rally, to cap off Winter Spirit Week. Student Administration representatives, with advisor Steven Johnston, coordinated spirit activities, including theme days with prizes for the best dressed, spirit banners, and a Mr. Chautauqua competition, judged on attire, a dance-off, interview responses, and a talent show. Junior Dustin Graziano was named Mr. Chautauqua, and the senior class won the week-long spirit competition.
Principal Josh Liddell summed up the Wellness Day experience, "Our students had a great time attending many meaningful sessions. The kickoff speaker's message of the importance of having a positive attitude, always giving your best effort, not being afraid to be courageous, and most importantly to remember that you are always valued, was very well received. Teachers Emily Perkins and Ashley Muscarella and our Sources of Strength students organized a great day to benefit all our students."