Wallkill seventh and eighth grade students were hard at work this summer at the Wallkill Central School District Summer Learning Academy, where they learned about mental health and healthy environments.
Students presented their projects to parents at a graduation on Aug. 1. Nine eighth graders and 18 seventh graders graduated from the program, which ran from July 8 to Aug. 1.
The program incorporated the New York State Education Department’s implementation of a mental health framework continuum. Students studied the importance of developing a positive school climate, how stress affects the body, and ways in which we can deal with stress.
Mathematics teacher Kenneth Hall said seventh grade students developed designs for a new space in the existing Middle School library that will help students manage stressful situations. Using the ideals of mindfulness, design software, the wood shop and 3D printers, students surveyed the area and planned how to best use the spaces and develop different sections to meet students’ needs.
Eighth grade students learned about stress and its short- and long-term effects on the body through research, literature, testing, discussions and 3D modeling.
Students then focused on five different stress relief methods; one group created Zen gardens; another created stress balls; another printed statues to be used in a fountain; the fourth developed a self-watering garden; and the fifth developed models.
Hall said the program developed students critical thinking and analytical skills.
“The program was a great opportunity for students to step aside and analyze what is happening around them and how it affects them physically, mentally and emotionally and for them to develop methods to take control so that they may become more well-rounded, focused individuals,” Hall said.