Story by Georgia Parsons
Photo by Ella Jayasekera
Seniors Kimberly Hsueh and Andrew Cheung hosted CREATIONS, a mental health and wellbeing student program, via Zoom the week of Monday, Aug. 31 to Thursday, Sept. 3. Each day consisted of stress-relieving icebreakers, informative presentations, and discussion opportunities all aimed at helping students learn more about their passions and identity as they navigate high school.
The first day addressed the culture of academic perfection at SPHS and the pressure to take AP and Honors courses. Both Hsueh and Cheung gave presentations on their personal experiences with the pressure to succeed, and shared stress-relieving tactics for students to implement in their everyday lives.
“As an entire group, we were able to have insightful conversations, address the rigor of AP courses stacked on top of an overpacked schedule, and even ways students can better manage stress,” Cheung said.
CREATIONS also dedicated a day to highlighting the importance of communication in relationships, specifically with family and teachers. SPHS counselor Maria Chelko and English teacher Rama Kadri presented in Tuesday’s session, urging students to advocate for themselves and create spaces for open dialogue.
SPHS social worker Natasha Prime spoke on Wednesday about how to maintain healthy romantic relationships in high school. The presentation touched on red flags in relationships such as toxic behavior, changing goals, and drama. Cheung and Hsueh also provided a list of conflict resolution resources at SPHS, including consulting Peer Mediators, Prime, or counselors.
The last day of CREATIONS centered around sex and gender identity, and a Planned Parenthood community health educator, Marylou Mercado, shared information with students. Mercado explained Planned Parenthood’s array of medical services in addition to covering the diversity of sexual orientation and gender identity. Students also learned how to be better allies to the LGBTQ+ community, by sharing pronouns, educating themselves and others about sex and gender, and supporting LGBTQ+ organizations.
“I liked learning about the gender spectrum in a way that also helped me educate others,” senior Claire Williams said. “It’s important [that] we get to know each other as people more through our identities which I feel is something a lot of people miss out on in high school.”
Students met in breakout rooms throughout all four meetings to share ideas and connect with their peers.
“I organized it so there was a leader in each room helping to guide the conversation and break the ice between students [who] might be unfamiliar with each other,” Cheung said. “With smaller groups, students were more willing to open up and share their thoughts and ideas on the different topics.”
In the future, Cheung and Hsueh hope to work with ASB to continue the program with engaging activities to attract more SPHS students. Cheung also spoke of the possible formation of a CREATIONS art gallery that would feature student work regarding identity and expression.