A Message from the Division Head

by Ann Sulzer

This week we showed the film Angst to 6th through 8th graders, and I know some of you also joined us to see the film as parents as part of Parent University on Wednesday evening. Speaking for myself, as a sixth grader, I did not know the words for anxiety or depression, and though I may have experienced stress at moments in my life, it was not the widespread experience that it is for our children today.

Angst does a great job of explaining the difference between anxiety and anxiety disorders and shares first-hand experiences of adolescents of how it feels to struggle with something bigger than every day stress. The film offers concrete approaches and solutions to managing stress and anxiety including mindfulness and intentional breathing; finding strategies to self-calm like seeking out music, art, or physical activities; and most of all, finding connections with friends and family. This is at the heart of all that we do for our students: create opportunities for positive relationships because we know the power of not only being known by others but also to be appreciated by others. The students will likely be carrying these messages and ideas from the film in the coming days, so whether you saw Angst or not, it would be great to check in with your kids about what they took away from the movie: What was new information to you? What do you do when you worry or feel anxiety? What works? What doesn’t?

Then I challenge you as parents to think about how you model your own stress management. What does it look like to your children when you are stressed? How do they see you respond in positive ways? Our children learn from us about how to best approach challenges in their own lives, and they look to you for prompting.