Partner with Stanford expands student support

Maddox de Bretteville, Sports Editor

Last weekend, on April 27-28, five LBHS teachers and administrators, Mrs. Hunnicut, Mr. Alvarez, Mrs. Brown, Dr. Allemann and Dr. Keller, traveled to Palo Alto with senior Piper Warner and her father Ben Warner for Stanford University’s Challenge Success conference.

Every student at LBHS was asked to take the Challenge Success survey earlier this year. Although it is possible that not everyone participated, those who did had a greater impact than they know as the survey’s data has provided administration invaluable information regarding how best to serve the students in the future.

The goal of Challenge Success, a program organized by Stanford University, is to embrace a broad definition of success and to implement research-based strategies that promote student well-being and engagement with learning.

School improvements associated with Challenge Success, such as Wellness Wednesdays,  may not always be glaringly noticeable from the students’ perspectives, but the individual school sites continue to make adjustments to alleviate overall stress levels.

Professionals from Challenge Success, along with leaders of the program at LBHS, will use the survey’s data to assess what areas of our school are in greatest need of improvement. According to the students’ responses, the high school’s current start time needs to be pushed back in order to support a healthy lifestyle.

“We…supported the district’s calendar change and a later start time to the bell schedule. We believe that this will benefit students’ mental health by allowing more time to sleep,” said Piper Warner, who, along with her father, has traveled twice to Stanford University to be involved in the partnership between LBHS and Challenge Success.

Students get excited every time they hear that a new program might lead to less homework or more sleep. However, that is not the sole purpose of Challenge Success. The goal is to create a more inclusive and accepting environment regarding success in school.

Success comes in all shapes and forms. There are so many ways to excel in school that don’t have to be defined by a 4.0 GPA.

Many in our school setting have already begun to challenge students to think beyond traditional measures of achievement.

“Sometimes students stumble into a passion because they forego what they think they ‘should do,’” said Hunnicutt. “Pursue what is interesting, what piques your curiosity, and find your own success.”

Challenge Success reminds that policies and culture often take years to evolve.

“What will happen is we’ll start looking at student feedback and current research in education to drive our work and help us evaluate what we do—  for everything from homework to scheduling to things beyond high school,” said Dr. Allemann.

The schedule change is the most immediate effect of Challenge Success that students will see in the near future.

Although Challenge Success is relatively new for our school, its surveys have reached 120,000 students since the program’s founding. The thousands of surveys have revealed that high schools, especially high achieving ones, are plagued by stress.

Headaches, stomach aches and loss of sleep can all stem from overbearing stress. Challenge Success aims to help students relieve anxiety and, in turn, increase sleep, by asking questions about the kinds of change students would like to see in their schools.

“Reducing or eliminating homework, making lunch longer and other schedule changes, and having test calendars so students don’t get hit with too many on one day, are all things we hear from students in the surveys,” said Denise Pope, Co-Founder of Challenge Success and Stanford Senior Lecturer.

Almost every student would like to eliminate homework and have a longer lunch, but every school is different and has its own unique needs. LBHS will benefit in the near future from its partnership with Challenge Success and Stanford University by addressing the student needs particular to its own district.

On Wednesday, May 1, Pope met in the LBHS library from 2:45 to 3:45 p.m. to educate LBHS staff further regarding Challenge Success and its mission to emphasize student social-emotional wellness and to redefine what it means for students to live successful lives.

“This program is still beginning at LBUSD, so I’m sure with additional surveys and information from other successful school districts, LBHS will continue to expand as a safe and healthy learning environment,” said Warner.