Mental Health Awareness Month
School Counselor Miss. Lori Stasinski began a project to spread awareness for Mental Health Awareness Month. She explained that she became a school counselor because mental health is a huge part of her life, and she wants to advocate for people who are going through mental health issues.
“I want to bring awareness that it’s normal. More people go through it than most people think. This project was not only to make [students] aware that May is Mental Health Awareness Month, but so students can understand they’re not the only ones going through it. There are other people who are either going through it, know someone who is going through it, or are completely supportive and are there to help,” Stasinski said.
Stasinski is working to make students aware of the importance of their mental health, and emphasize that there are people all around that understand what they may be going through. She has experienced many of the same feelings that students may be experiencing now.
“I know exactly how people feel when they, especially teenagers, are trying to get through the school day. When you have so much going on in your mind, it’s hard to concentrate. You’re at your desk; you’re trying so hard not to cry, even though that’s all you want to do; you have this crazy anxiety; your heart’s racing, all just to actually try to function and do well in school. I know depression can feel like one of the loneliest feelings in the world, but honestly, there’s always someone there that’s gonna really care about you and that it’s that you matter to them.” Stasinski said.
Stasinski believes mental health should be focused on and treated just as any other injury or disease should be. The only difference is that mental health is not always visible.
“It’s like if you broke your arm. Yes, you can see when someone broke their arm, but you can’t see mental health [disorders]. People have a harder time accepting that they’re there. Some people have a hard time explaining how it feels to have to have any mental illness. Because, you know, when you have a broken arm, or you have a broken leg, you can say, ‘There’s pain here; there’s pain there,’ but when it’s like logical pain, you can’t see it. It’s not tangible. It’s more abstract,” Stasinski said.
Mental health is something that should be focused on throughout the year, not only during Mental Health Awareness Month. Counselors are aware of how you feel and are available to talk to throughout the entire school year.
“I know when students think about counselors, sometimes they just think scheduling or they think academics, but when we go through the grad school program to become counselors, it’s very heavy on mental health and helping students get through certain situations,” Stasinski said.
The project that she started consisted of creating bulletin boards of artwork and poetry that demonstrated how it feels to have a mental illness. These bulletin boards were displayed in a high traffic area of the building to ensure that all students were able to see them.
“I kept reaching out to the student body at Lake Central through mass emails saying, ‘Hey, if you are artistic, or if you want to write a poem, or draw something simple, show either what it feels like to be to have a mental illness, or show support that you’re there for people who have mental illnesses that you’re there, to understand them that you’re not judging them.’ Since it’s the end of the school year, I wanted to make it as simple as possible,” Stasinski said.
Although the school year is ending and counselors are extremely busy, Stasinski still managed to put together something to promote mental health awareness month. The bulletin boards of artwork were intended to promote the idea that you are never alone, and there is always someone that will be there for you.
“It’s okay to feel the way you’re feeling. I think the biggest thing that I want everybody to know is that you’re not alone. You feel like you’re alone sometimes. But there are signs everywhere that you are not. You’re never alone. There’s always someone you can talk to,” Stasinski said.
The Lake Central High School administration and both Junior and Senior Class Cabinet members have been working tirelessly to put on a Prom for the class of 2021. Typically, the Junior Class Cabinet is responsible for planning Prom, but this year the Senior Class President Isabella Brazzale worked with the sponsors of both the Junior and Senior Class Cabinet to plan the dance.
“I met with our principal, a couple times and we didn’t see it happening. Eventually, once we heard that Munster was having a parking lot [prom] we decided that we would put a proposal together and send it to the health department [to] see if they would allow us to do a similar event,” Brazzale said.
The idea of holding Prom in the parking lot was changed to holding it on the football field. Holding the dance on the football field allowed students enough space to spread out while dancing, and the space was large enough to accommodate the amount of people despite being at a limited capacity.
“The health department is very cautious with our school because of our size. They were very reluctant to give us the go ahead to do a Prom. We figured hosting it outside would give us the opportunity to include more people. Our stadium holds 4,000 people and we were approved to have 600 in that space at prom. If we had moved it inside, that number would have dropped dramatically,” Junior Class Cabinet Sponsor Ms. Allison Peda said.
Along with moving the dance outside, tickets were only available to seniors. This limitation was put in place to ensure that all the seniors who would like to attend the dance got the opportunity to do so.
“We were only allowed to sell 600 tickets, so we wanted to make sure every senior who wanted to attend could buy a ticket. If we had opened it up to juniors, we would have sold out and had to check in with the health department on numbers and might have had to exclude some seniors,” Ms. Peda said.
After a lot of uncertainty regarding the big events that are traditionally held toward the end of the school year, it was concluded that Lake Central High School would be having both a prom and a graduation ceremony. The Health Department is only allowing schools to have two large events for the school year, so one of the many things that had to be sacrificed in order to have prom was the senior banquet.
“At first we weren’t sure what we were going to have to sacrifice. The biggest thing was finding a safe way to hold the event so that the health department [would] approve of it. We decided to make the event outdoors so that [it] was a large open space. Because of this, we had to sacrifice having the dance in a hall. Luckily, because we decided not to have the dance in a hall it actually took our ticket prices down from what would normally be around $70 to only $15 per student,” Brazzale said.
The ticket prices were so low because there was no cost of renting a facility, and there was a reduced cost for food. Because the dance was not held in a hall, there were no meals served. Multiple food trucks were available in order to keep the option of eating at the dance open.
“I think the food trucks were a really smart idea because normally students go out to eat before or after the dance anyways, so not everyone eats at the dance. When you have it at a banquet hall and have to get food, students are required to pay for that food that they might not be eating. Having the food truck ensures that there’s food there for students who want to eat at the dance but it also doesn’t require students that aren’t going to eat at the dance to pay for the food,” Brazzale said.
The dance being on the football field and having food trucks for dinner were not the only differences between previous proms and this one. There was less time to organize the day, so the Grand March was also planned by the people who planned the dance in order to ensure all of the proper precautions are being taken.
“Normally the Lake Central Education Foundation or Dollars for Scholars run the Grand March, but with our time constraints this year, we took that over as well. Also, there was way more help from assistant principals and people in the building since prom was held at Lake Central instead of the normal hall. There was a lot more student input and aid but it was from the Senior Class Cabinet instead of juniors, because only seniors were allowed to attend prom,” Ms. Peda said.
Although Prom was not held the traditional way this year, the class of 2021 was able to experience their own version of the dance. For many students, attending Prom was one of the big things to look forward to throughout the four years of high school.
Girl’s Swim Sectionals
by: Brenna Sealy
The Lake Central Girls Swimming and Diving team finished out their regular season at Sectionals on Saturday, Feb. 6. The girls have had to adapt to participating in the sport while also dealing with the setbacks of COVID-19.
“This year was a lot more complicated than years past. COVID impacted our season in a couple [of] ways, but I think the biggest impact was a feeling of separation. We were separated from our parents and each other for most of the season. This led to us not getting the same kind of atmosphere at Conference and Sectionals this year. Without any of our parents and loved ones, we relied on each other, and we had to be stronger together,” Paige Baker (12) said.
The entire team was quarantined for two weeks in December, and the girls did not let that hold them back. Madison Mercer, a senior diver on the team, said she did not think COVID-19 had an effect on the outcome of their season.
“Our team was quarantined once during the season for two weeks, but instead of coming back and panicking about feeling behind other teams, everyone came back refreshed from the break and ready to work as hard as they could to catch back up. I think the team did as well as we possibly could have and the outcome of our season would have been very similar if we had a ‘regular’ season,” Mercer said.
Although the entire team was quarantined for two weeks, Mercer was quarantined for three weeks and missed two meets that she was “very excited to compete at.” This did not hold her back, and after she came back, she went on to put out her best at every meet due to a realization she had.
“I realized I couldn’t take anything for granted this year and had to go out and compete at every meet as though it may be my last one, which each one easily could have been, with the uncertainty of if we’d be able to make it through the season without being shut down or if I would be quarantined again,” Mercer said.
Mercer also explained that athletes on the team had to step up and hold each other accountable when coaches were quarantined. The younger members of the team had to step up and fill a Varsity position when those athletes were quarantined.
The athletes on the team have a strong passion for the sport. Many of the members have long lists of reasons as to why they participate, and they did not allow anything to get in the way of having a season this year.
“Swimming is my lifeline. I love the sport and have revolved most of my life around it. I swim year-round and have goals set for my future. The excitement and adrenaline rush when I compete at big meets and break records is what keeps me going,” Baker said.
After anticipating this meet all season, the team competed in Sectionals and tied for second place with Munster High School. Many of the athletes won first place in their events and qualified for the state competition, and Madison Mercer and Shelby Noonan qualified for Regionals in diving.
“I felt very confident in all my dives and that confidence helped lead me to win first place. I was so excited to have accomplished my goal since freshman year of becoming a sectional champion. After Sectionals, I was very proud of my team and all that we were able to accomplish this year. I was very nervous that this season would not live up to my expectations of what my senior year would be like due to COVID but I am very happy with how it turned out,” Mercer said.
by: Tiffanie Richerme
With COVID-19 and the relatively new concept of e-learning, this school year has been anything but ordinary. As both students and staff work to adapt to the ever-changing guidelines and rules, Ms. Ashley Kline, Guidance, felt everyone could use a little extra kindness, so she proposed a kindness week.
“Ashley Kline is on the Social Emotional Committee. She came up with the idea in October of 2019 as a Social Emotional Learning Committee event. Ms. Kline saw information about The Great Kindness Challenge and just tweaked it a little,” Mrs. Melissa Rettig, Assistant Principal, said.
Mrs. Robin May, Guidance, decided to help out with the idea, proposing spirit wear days to go along with the kindness challenges. The themed days included “Dream of kindness” (pajama day) and “Team kindness” (sports day).
“School counselor Robin May came up with the ideas this year. Mrs. May thought it would be fun by incorporating spirit week dress up days,” Rettig said.
After seeing Kindness Week’s success at the high school, the middle schools decided to implement their own as well. Each school hoped to positively impact the students’ mental and social health and spread kindness.
“The Lake Central High School Social Emotional Committee is part of a district-wide committee to push social and emotional health. The middle school committee probably saw how it went for us and decided to go with it,” Rettig said.
Due to the success of the week, Rettig explains they will continue implementing it in future years. She and the guidance department hope to bring a little kindness into the students’ and staffs’ lives.
“When you are looking for good behavior, you find it. The ultimate goal is to have people be more kind to each other,” Rettig said.
School Board Approves Changes to School Schedule
by: Brenna Sealy
Decided by a unanimous vote from the present school board, beginning the week of Oct. 14, students of the Lake Central School Corporation will be released 90 minutes early every Wednesday. This change is being put in place to allow teachers additional time to plan and prepare lessons for both online and in-person students.
“We don’t take cutting out instructional time lightly. In most cases, we wouldn’t do it, but we just recognize we’ve got a lot of [teachers] that are struggling a lot and so in the short term at least, we’d give them some time to work with their peers,” Dr. Larry Veracco, superintendent, said.
Teachers will be able to use this time to learn to use the new forms of technology that are needed in the classroom as well as transferring lessons online. The extra 90 minutes is hoped to allow pressure to be relieved.
“I think that they are applying a lot of pressure to themselves and it can make the job a lot tougher than it maybe has to be but we really just want to try to take the pressure off and we figure the middle of the week is a good time to do that. [The teachers] can fill that gap with whatever they need the most,” Veracco said.
The concerns regarding parents being unable to watch their children will be taken care of through the Adventure Club. Bus services will also remain available.
“We’re going to look at bringing the Adventure Club in a little earlier for the elementary kids to see what the demand is but we should be able to satisfy some of the demand,” Veracco said.
This time is intended to better the student’s education and the mental health of teachers. Teachers will have more time to do whatever is needed in order to adapt to school during COVID-19 and create the best learning environment possible for students.
Lake Central School Corporation
8400 Wicker Avenue, St. John IN 46373
Pathways to Excellence