Kennedy Students Learn Good Decision-Making Skills

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More than 25 students gathered in the dimly lit wrestling room on March 2, to nestle into the foam mats, listen to soothing spa music and be guided through meditation and yoga poses during Good Decision Making Week at Kennedy High School.

With the support of the Community Parent Center, The practice was part of a series of assemblies and workshops aimed at promoting good decisions. 

“This is a great opportunity for us to continue to focus on fostering an environment where students help each other and exhibit kindness,” said Principal David Seinfeld.

Earth science teacher and certified yoga instructor Dawn Sullivan has been implementing deep breathing, guided mediation and stretching exercises in the classroom for some time now and sees a direct correlation in students’ behavior as well as academic performance.

“Ahead of a testing day, I find students are even requesting it,” Sullivan added. “Afterward, they have an actual sensory emotional feeling of before and after and we can then open a dialogue about how that coincides with what it’s like being a high school student and start to make those connections.”

Although this week was the ideal opportunity to introduce students to the practice, Sullivan has actually been offering practices regularly to faculty members during off periods. Together with Good Decisions Week coordinator and Assistant Principal Gerard Owenburg, Sullivan plans to collaborate with clubs and teachers to further drive these mindfulness points home.

“It all came from this year’s mission charged to us as educators from Superintendent John DeTommaso about ‘connecting with kindness and caring,’” Owenburg said. “This is a way for us to get kids thinking about how they can better take care of themselves as well as their peers.”

Owenburg also said they are working on the creation of a space in the building where students can go to practice during their off periods.

“It’s a way to calm down, be centered and feel happier,” Sullivan explained. “When you have a day that is difficult this gives you a way to take back control.”

Other programs included substance abuse awareness, interactive workshops to deter DWI/distracted driving and internet safety. Merrick resident Steve Weiner addressed students about goal setting, and the ability to be strong in tough situations.

The self-proclaimed “Strong Man” is a Guinness Book of World Records holder. His message to the students was well-received as he performed some his Strongman feats such as rolling a frying pan and bending a horseshoe.

“In addition, he allowed the students to try age-appropriate strength activities and presented a great message about goal setting and perseverance,” added Athletic Director Craig Papach.

“These full grade assembly programs in addition to classroom activities presented by Pride for Youth, LICADD, and individual teachers, I believe, served our students well,” added Seinfeld. “It is my sincere hope that we, as an adult community, work together to send healthy and mindful messages to our children.”