STORY BY JOSIE DECARO (‘19) AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION BY SARA MILLS (’19)
“Every single day that George is here, I have a student tell me that he makes their day better,” middle school counselor Misti Postle said. “So for me, all of the work that comes with dealing with an ornery puppy feels worth it.”
The middle school recently received a therapy dog for students to come in and to relieve any type of anxiety or stress.
“In fact, during the school year, teens say their stress level is higher than levels reported by adults in the past month,” according to the American Psychological Association. “For teens and adults alike, stress has an impact on healthy behaviors like exercising, sleeping well and eating healthy foods.”
When the students have become so overwhelmed with homework, it tends to affect their habits of exercising, eating and most importantly sleep. Stress for students becomes worse when it is not controlled or if they continue these unhealthy habits.
Student survey on stress caused by school (100 students surveyed)
American Psychological Association claims that teens pass over adults during the school year in stress levels. The stress levels of teens is a 5.8 compared to adults which is a 5.1 out of 10.
The student body is constantly experiencing high levels of anxiety, which challenges both their academic and social life.
“I think that all the teachers expect alot from their students in these higher level classes,” junior Chloe Mulford said. “They don’t understand what it is like for those who like to challenge themselves.”
Mulford is taking two advanced classes and is involved in extracurricular activities. She finds that she has a couple hours of homework, which involves a lot of reading, in many classes each night.
“Not only do I try and put myself in a challenging position in school, but I also try and be the best in my sport and also try to be involved in my community,” Mulford said.
For many students, including Mulford, balancing an academic and social life is very difficult. Multiple students that have part-time jobs barely have time to fit in any homework.
“Challenging yourself at Granville High School is pretty challenging for students,” Social Studies teacher Jeremy Hopping said. “And the biggest way to manage stress is organization and staying on top of work.”
Hopping’s AP Government class is an advanced class that involves many more hours of studying and reading for homework compared to the regular class. This stress teaches his students how to stay organized in order for students to get their homework completed on time.
“I think we put a lot of pressure on a high school-minded student,”study hall teacher Joe Dowling said. “Especially between the ages of 13-18, you guys live in a world of pressure.”
Dowling notices that the study hall room is effectively used and also seems to observe how much pressure is placed on a student. Dowling also stated that study hall is also effective for a student to relax and take a break from their school work and let their brain rest.
“The anxiety and stress level in Granville, in my opinion, is significantly higher, because we are a high-achieving and college preparatory school,” school counselor Cody Masters said. “The amount of stress I see, whether it is right or wrong, I expect it.”
Masters said on average ten to twenty student come to him every week, whether it is coming into his office, emails or calls from parents, for anxiety and stress level reasons.
“It is not uncommon to see one or two students per day,” Masters said, “Anxiety is very common in Granville students’ lives. It’s just managing the anxiety and understanding that you can use the stress as a motivator, but too much stress is unhealthy.”
Masters tries to help his student by telling them to keep doing their best and to push through it. He also recommends breathing exercises, closing your eyes and other strategies to help relieve that stress. Masters claims that having a therapy dog in the high school, like the middle school, would benefit the student body.
“I think [the middle school therapy dog] has boosted the moods of the people around him,” Postle said. “He has given all of us a common thing to relate to and talk about, and removed the barrier for seeking help through my office.”
Postle claims that the academic pressure in the middle school prepares the students for high school. From observations, Postle sees that middle school social pressure is also becoming higher.
“I see 15-25 students per period, which is a steep increase from before George started,” Postle said.
Having therapy available to students, provides them a sort of scapegoat to really talk about the stress that they may be having with school or home life.
“I think students should approach their anxiety by thinking about how anxiety feels in their body, what triggers or causes their anxiety and what things have helped in the past to break down and work through it,” Postle said.
Postal suggests that reflecting on the tools that have helped relieve stress is a good way to conquer this anxiety in the future. This can even help students by relieving most stress before it even starts.