A Stress-free Sanctuary Comes to RHS

Like+many+students+at+RHS%2C+Charlie+Brown+wishes+he+had+a+place+to+relax.++

Alejandra Dickens

Like many students at RHS, Charlie Brown wishes he had a place to relax.

Olivia Selby, Chief Copy Editor

You place your near stub of a pencil down with a culminating thump. You feel as though you’ve just been through a battle fighting to the death, but AP Chem has gotten the better of you. You tried your best, but mol/gram conversions and gas laws have pummeled you to the ground— leaving you feeling like Charlie Brown on Christmas Day as he trudges through the snow. The bell rings and you walk through the bustling halls sniveling, teary eyed at your lack of genius, and wishing you had somewhere to go to hide, relax, and process the swarm of emotions in your throat.

Luckily, such a safe haven is in the works here at RHS. 

Since pre-pandemic times, the “Mindfulness Planning Committee”, including Mr. Palazzolo, Ms. Rodier, Ms. Renzi, and Mr. Davenport, has been working to create a space where students can take a break from their stressful lives, relax, and reset. 

This initiative is part of a greater effort to incorporate mindfulness into school life through the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence’s RULER program. RULER is an acronym for Recognizing emotions in oneself and other people; Understanding the causes and consequences of those emotions; Labeling emotions with precise words; Expressing emotions; and Regulating emotions. Resources that would encourage these healthy responses to stress would be provided in a Mindfulness Room. Finding effective ways to regulate emotions is not only essential to students’ mental health but also their academic performance. 

“A new study suggests that mindfulness education — lessons on techniques to calm the mind and body — can reduce the negative effects of stress and increase students’ ability to stay engaged, helping them stay on track academically and avoid behavior problems.” says Grace Tatter in the Harvard School of Education article “Making Time for Mindfulness”. 

The committee’s first step towards implementing the Mindfulness Room was finding a space to use. The committee’s priority was that the mindfulness space be accessible to both the Middle and High school. As luck would have it, Ms. Fritz’s retirement coincided with the search for a space and room 125 has been reserved for the imminent “Mindfulness Room”. 

Now that the committee has identified a space, they need to outfit it and design activities. While the specifics of what the room will entail have to be hammered out, the committee is primarily focused on getting the project off the ground. 

 “Once we get it going, there’s no limit to what we can put in place” says Mr. Davenport.

The Mindfulness Committee has been in touch with Christopher Babb, the school social worker at Arlington High School, who has been instrumental in designing the Arlington Mindfulness Room.

In the AHS Mindfulness Room there are a variety of “stations” each with its own activity and each activity provides the participant a chance to experience the present moment using any/all of the 5 senses” says Mr. Babb. RHS may use the successful efforts of the Arlington School District as inspiration for their own activities. 

When discussing possible activities, Mr. Davenport also assured Rhinebeck Reality’s reporters that the possibility of therapy dogs being integrated into the Mindfulness Room is a very real one; Ms. Mustello, a member of the Building Level Planning Team, has already reached out to Therapy Dog Programs in the area. This idea has proven to be very popular amongst students. 

“If there were animals, that would be great! Animals always help me destress personally” says senior Anna Lawson.

The Mindfulness Room committee initially thought the room should only be available during lunch periods, but has now decided that it should be open during all periods of the day to ensure that all students have access to the resources provided in the space. However, this doesn’t mean that students can go to the mindfulness room whenever they please.

“Students would be able to go during a free period or lunch period to start. These procedures may change as we continue to develop” says Mr. Davenport. 

According to Mr. Davenport, the room should be up and running by the end of the second quarter. Students are looking forward to a less stressful year ahead. 

When asked if he would use the resources provided by a mindfulness room, Senior Bryce Aierstock enthusiastically responded, “100%. I think that would be very beneficial to the student body.”