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[Nov. 2016 News] Wellness class promotes mindfulness in action and thought


By Julia Rosier ’18 & Frenchy Truitt ’17


The Wellness class, also known as the Dialectical Behavior Therapy Class (DBT), guides students and provides tips to reduce stress and maintain mindfulness. The class, being taught by Dr. Alycia Dadd, Yasu Wade, Lauren Burkhart, Jenna Giordano and Dr. Thomas Viviano, is in it’s second year at Staples and has drawn student attention.

“The class is really designed to address just common student problems. If you ever feel like you can’t focus on studying or you’re just dealing with some typical student drama or you kind of have some emotions that come out of nowhere and you don’t understand where they came from,” Viviano said.

According to the website, PsychCentral, DBT was developed in the late 1980s and is designed to teach and encourage people to handle situations differently than they may have handled them before. But that does not mean the Wellness class is a therapy class.  Rather, it gives students skills to succeed in all aspects of high school. It covers a variety of topics like acknowledging and respecting other people’s opinions, talking their thought processes out loud and managing stress.

Each day, the class begins with a mindfulness activity—whether it’s reading articles on the current unit, or engaging in a role-play activity where students act out behaviors for scenarios they might face in the real

“[This is] actually a class where we, in the moment, teach kids how to refrain from looking at their phone, how to stop those emotions that come from checking your phone or your grades,” Dadd said.

Dadd helped start the course at Staples last year in part because she found there was a shortage of research programs in high school that emphasized social and emotional awareness. Dadd acknowledges that although there are many strong research programs in kindergarten through eighth grade that encourage mindfulness, “when you get to high school, there’s so much going on, that there’s not really a lot of well-researched interventions,” she said.

The course has attracted students who are eager to relieve stress and learn how to better manage skills in mindfulness.

Erin McGroarty ’18 enrolled in the class to learn how to better handle any crisis that may arise during her junior year. “This class has helped me so much. I’ve figured out ways to put things into perspective—whether it’s a bad game or a rough quiz grade—and handle it in the moment by realizing it’s not the end of the world and that it’s all going to be okay,” McGroarty said.

The Wellness DBT class also includes a parent component where the parents of the students come in once a month to watch a presentation that aligns with the content that the students are learning in class. The parents are exposed to the language and skills so they are able to guide their children outside of class.

Students may enroll in this class by speaking to their guidance counselor. DBT is open to all grade levels and there are still openings for second semester.

McGroarty, for one, recommends the class.  “It’s really fun and relaxing,” McGroarty said, and “has really changed the way I perform as a student at Staples.”

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