Hun Middle School Hosts Wellness Day; Explores Vaping, Relationships, and Other Topics
The Hun Middle School hosted its first Wellness Day this month, composed of workshops and programs on mental and physical health issues facing adolescents. The February 13th event is part of Hun’s schoolwide Wellness Program, which seeks to nurture the physical and emotional development of students alongside their academic growth.
Wellness Days are designed to provide concentrated wellness education that supplements the curriculum. (The Upper School Wellness Day was rescheduled for April 3rd due to weather.) The events were designed by Middle School Counselor Chantille Kennedy, M.S., M.Phil. Ed, Upper School Director of Counseling Services John McDevitt, M.S., and Health and Wellness Coordinator Olivia Albanese ’13, M.A.
“They not only talked about things like vaping and relationships, but about things I didn’t expect, like how addictive sugar is,” said Isaac Rey-Russick ’24. (The students watched a film on the topic called Fed Up, which explores the amount of sugar Americans consume.) “I thought Wellness Day was a really good idea.”
The Middle School Wellness Day included sessions on:
Cyberbullying: Princeton Patrolman Shahid Abdul-Karim defined different types of bullying, both on and off-line. Students also viewed a TEDx Talk by 14-year-old Trish Prabhu, an Illinois teen who made an app named “Rethink Before You Type.” It asks online users if they are sure they want to post an abusive comment. She said the app reduced the incidence of those who went forward with bullying comments from 71 percent to 4 percent. “I was so impressed that someone that age could do something so important,” said Jack Lenkowsky ’25. “It was inspiring.”
Healthy Relationships: Wellness Day organizer and Middle School Counselor Chantille Kennedy hosted a session on healthy relationships. Listening to each scenario, students held up stoplight signs to signal green for “ok”, yellow for “caution”, or red for “not ok” in a relationship, and discussed their differing reactions and opinions.
Anxiety: August Leming, Ph.D., a psychologist and life coach, spoke with students about anxiety. After drawing pictures of themselves, including where they feel anxiety in their bodies, he talked about controlling the emotion with deep breathing and meditation. Dr. Leming urged the students to embrace their anxiety, rather than fear it. “I liked that he said anxiety will happen no matter what, “said Brianna Le ’23, “and that you need to listen to it, get accustomed to it, and accept it as part of your life.”
Vaping: Hun Director of Counseling Services John McDevitt gave a workshop about e-cigarettes. He described how they work, the highly addictive nature of the nicotine they deliver, and the more than 60 chemicals that can be found in them. He also discussed the drive by e-cigarette companies to make money and market their highly-addictive products to children. He explained how nicotine elevates the heart rate while simultaneously constricting blood vessels, creating grave health risks.
The Middle School Wellness Program is taught as a semester course in seventh and eighth grade. In seventh grade, issues covered include physical fitness, the health triangle (physical, social, and mental/emotional health,) puberty, and basic sex education. In eighth grade, substances covered include tobacco, e-cigarettes, alcohol, and other drugs.
In the Upper School, ninth and tenth graders take wellness as part of their grade-level seminars. Students learn about issues of nutrition and fitness, substance use, stress management, human sexuality, and other topics. Eleventh and twelfth graders receive education on special topics as needed.
The Hun School of Princeton is an independent, coeducational, private day and boarding college preparatory school. Student-centered, hands-on learning prepares students for the global community in which they will live and work.