High on Life

George Saba, Photo Editor

This school year, special education teacher Mindy Hawkins and student support specialist Alex Aronson have started the “High on Life Club” that primarily focuses on maintaining positive mental and emotional health.

“We were trying to come up with some activities for students that help them feel connected with each other, the school and the community, while still giving opportunities to socialize outside of school in positive ways,” said Hawkins.

Hawkins, one of the teachers for the Peer Assisted Leadership (PALS) class until it was discontinued at the high school, went around the community with the class, completing good deeds, such as mentoring students at TOW, El Morro and Thurston Middle School.  The class also visited the Suzy Q Center. PALS continues at Top of the World Elementary School and Thurston Middle School in partnership with a similar program called Leadership.

“Since we didn’t have the PALS class anymore, we still wanted some ways that we could boost positive self-esteem and emotional health at our school, so Ms. Aronson and I focused on creating a club. I found that we met the needs of many students, emotionally, through the PALS class and built strong communication skills, but as we moved away from the class, we looked for other ways to support students through social and emotional health, kindness week and the new student luncheon,” said Hawkins.

This year will be Aronson’s fourth year working in schools, and her second working for LBHS.

“I got my bachelor’s degree in child development and family studies, and I got my master’s in social work,” said Aronson. “I was fortunate enough to be the first person to ever have this position as the Student Support Specialist or Mental Health Counselor.”

Aronson believes that this club is needed as there have been multiple accounts of individuals coming into her office, saying that they’re struggling with anxiety or depression. Students who often feel alone now have a place to be open about their feelings among supportive peers and staff.

“My hope is that the club will allow students to speak out if they’re struggling and that they’re not embarrassed to say that they need help or support,” said Aronson.