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The Spartan Speaks

The student news site of Orono High School

The Spartan Speaks

The student news site of Orono High School

The Spartan Speaks

“You Matter Week” Set to Raise Spirits Before Winter Break

A look at the positive messages on the back of the “You Matter” sweatshirts being sold by Senate.

The Student Senate is eager to promote the message of “You Matter” next week at OHS. With cozy dress-up days, a guest speaker, and school-wide events, they plan on raising awareness for mental health and providing students with a sense of calm before winter break.

Activities On The Roster for Next Week
Next week will be filled with activities before and after school, during Spartan Hour, and throughout the week. Senate members who are a part of the “You Matter” committee have worked hard to set this project in motion. According to Sophomore senator Jack Munsch, additional meetings were scheduled to give the committee time to contact speakers and companies.

This year, the Senate is partnering with the NAMI organization to hold a gift drive for teenagers spending the holiday in residential treatment around Minnesota. The goal of NAMI is to help develop well-being programs within communities and improve the lives of children and families suffering from mental illness.

“One of the things in our constitution for the Senate is to do service on behalf of the school, so we’ve always done some kind of service project. Our service project has been fundraising for mental health organizations for the last two years,” Nohner said.

A new addition to the “You Matter” agenda this year is “Friday Fun Day”, which will take place during Spartan Hour on December 15. Techam reports that activities will include a hot chocolate station, spending time with therapy bunnies, and making cards for the Letters of Love organization.

Another critical aspect of “You Matter” week that the Senate has planned this year is the sale of merchandise. Student-designed sweatshirts will be sold during lunch for $30, and profits will be donated to mental health organizations.

Origins and Purpose of “You Matter” Week
Last year, former senior Izzy Bagan proposed the idea of hosting a school-wide event advocating for mental health to OHS Senate advisors Grace Nohner and Jarrett Lundquist. According to Nohner, the idea came from a friend of Bagan’s who hosted a similar event at her high school in California. The Senate went on to plan school-wide activities that placed student well-being at the center and promoted a positive message, and it was a success.

“You Matter” week is rooted in helping students feel understood in their mental struggle, especially in the winter months, as seasonal depression is an issue that can seriously impact academic performance and motivation. It aims to build an ever-growing web of support in the school community and provide students with the resources they need to achieve their full potential.

“It is to give every student a sense of belonging within their school. It tries to reach every student and make sure they know there are people here who care about them,” mental health worker Marie Techam said.

Mental Health’s Impact on Students
A student’s mental health has a substantial effect on their ability to learn and overall academic performance. According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, “mental health problems can affect a student’s energy level, concentration, dependability, mental ability, and optimism.”

Not only are the symptoms of poor mental health detrimental to the students experiencing them, but the rate of students with mental health problems continues to rise. A 2022 YouthTruth survey reports that “over 50% of students at every high school grade level cited depression, stress, and anxiety as obstacles to learning.”

It is up to schools to use the resources they have to assist students in carving out a path that will help them achieve positive well-being. While someone’s mental health is not an issue that can be solved overnight, “You Matter” week wants to remind students that it is “okay not to be okay”, as Techam stated in an interview.

Students and Staff Alike Are Eager for Next Week
Senate members and OHS staff are looking forward to kicking off a great week advocating for mental health awareness at Orono. The counseling department, who have graciously provided their expertise for this project, is also excited about what the week will offer.

“I am excited about seeing all of our students participate in an activity that supports their well-being and mental health,” Techam said.

Multiple organizations, including the Senate, the Well-Being Club, Letters of Love, and Youth in Action are working together to organize an event students will remember fondly.

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About the Contributor
Lily Munsch, Staff Writer
Hi! My name is Lily Munsch, and this is my first year writing for the Spartan Speaks. I am on the Orono Dance Team, and in my free time I enjoy going out on the lake and hanging out with friends. I am excited to report on events happening around OHS this year!

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