Students chart healthy course

Students at William E. Hay Composite High School are beating stress … by attending a conference.

Students at William E. Hay Composite High School are beating stress … by attending a conference.

A student conference last Friday was masterminded and organized by director of student services Dianne Enyedy, who got the idea after she attended a conference for guidance counsellors in Banff, and learned that high school students are facing a considerable amount of stress.

“A number of students have a lot more going on in their lives, and with the amount of stress they have, they have fewer skills dealing with it.,” she said.

“By the time they get to the high school level, they have too much to do and no coping skills.”

Stress in high school students is something that is gaining more attention. A study released by the American Psychological Association in 2009 said 43 per cent of students aged 13 to 17 consider doing well in school as a source of stress, and 29 per cent say that deciding what to do after high school is a source of stress.

That’s where the conference came in.

There were some sessions dealing directly with anxiety or stress management (pet therapy, self-hypnosis, and yoga) and some that deal with preparing the students for life after high school (information on different colleges and entrepreneurial basics).

“I just had two girls from Grade 12 who came and told me that they thought it was absolutely outstanding and they’re mad at their peers for not necessarily sticking around,” Enyedy said.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said student Allie Heimstra.

“Especially right after exams … they’re worth so much of your mark, it’s a nice way to take it down,” added fellow student Abby Tizzard.

Keynote speaker and William E. Hay alumnus Leighann Doan-Reimer spoke about how to set a goal and make decisions to reach that goal.

“The main idea (of my speech) I think would be, beyond dreaming big, is the steps you have to take,” said Doan-Reimer.

She pointed out in her speech that though she didn’t achieve her original dream of being an Olympian in basketball, she’s happy with where her life took her.

“Even though we maybe don’t succeed and achieve it in the end, what happens on the way is actually more valuable than what happens in the end,” said Doan-Reimer. “Sometimes the end happens, sometimes it doesn’t, so treasure what happens in between.”

Enyedy also had a good reception from the local people she asked to prepare sessions.

“Every single person said, ‘Definitely.’ They wanted to participate, and they all understood that they were donating their time … and they all said that they wished they had something like this when they were in high school,” she said.

Enyedy has been planning the conference since the beginning of December, and she was happy with the outcome. “I’m incredibly pleased,” she said.

“I think the presenters were outstanding, I think the students who participated were thrilled, I think the sponsorship we had was fabulous.”