SKANEATELES | Students put down their books and turned off their computers and cell phones to relax and have fun during a special Wellness event at Skaneateles High School on Oct. 16.

A team of student photographers and reporters covered the event — Laurel Parker, Jim O’Connell, Julia Hearn, Madelyn Brogan and Leah King for capturing the day.

After a regular morning of classes, students and staff engaged in a wide range of activities — from dodgeball and bowling to karaoke, pumpkin painting and mask making — throughout the school.

The atmosphere was energetic and also more relaxed, not as stressful as usual, according to students who were interviewed. And that is just what High School Principal Gregory Santoro wanted.

Wellness has been a focus throughout Skaneateles schools this fall, as educators focus on all dimensions of wellness — occupational, physical, social, intellectual, spiritual and emotional.

From the initial staff meeting before school started to special assemblies and events within each school, the concept of total wellness has been introduced.

“We are taking it very seriously because we believe in wellness,” Santoro told parents at open house Oct. 15.

He said wellness is of utmost importance when it comes to preparing students so they are ready for college, careers and life after high school.

A special focus on wellness in the Skaneateles Central School District involves removing obstacles that prevent students from maximizing their learning and their potential, Superintendent Ken Slentz told staff as he introduced “The Six Dimensions of Wellness.”

To reach maximum potential, all dimensions of wellness — occupational, physical, social, intellectual, spiritual and emotional — must be addressed.

At class meetings with students the first week of school, Santoro talked about the importance of wellness. He told students that in addition to working hard academically, they should make sure they take care of themselves emotionally, socially and physically.

Achieving academically at a high level is good but should not be to the exclusion of other dimensions — not if there is too much stress.

He encouraged students to be self-aware. He shared a list of all of the people who are in the school to help them.

“We are here to help you,” Santoro said.

Santoro also stressed the importance of family and having dinner as a family.

“Keep an open mind. Your parents care about you deeply,” he said.

While students might not fully appreciate the advice of their parents and educators today, there will come a time when they look back and know, he said.

“There is not a more powerful partnership than that of parents and school working together for the most important investment ever – you,” he said.

The district initiated a Wellness Committee last year. According to the National Wellness Institute, “Wellness is an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.”

In addition:

  • Wellness is a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential.
  • Wellness is multidimensional and holistic, encompassing lifestyle, mental and spiritual well-being, and the environment.
  • Wellness is positive and affirming.

The district is at work on the development of a plan which will guide the development of a research-based healthy school climate which focuses on the physical, emotional and social health, safety and wellness of students and staff.

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