Wellness Weekend implemented

Students, staff unwind during the first homework-free Thanksgiving break


Anthony Barney and Mackenzie Olmstead

Every year Thanksgiving rolls around and the staff and students get a break that lasts a couple of days off to spend some time with their families and enjoy the holidays. However, a break is a break for a reason, and having enormous amounts of homework, projects, and grading to worry about when you’re intended to spend time with loved ones kind of defeats the whole purpose. As a result of this stress, an idea sprouted to positively impact mental health.

A fairly new concept has been added to Utica High’s calendar for the 2019 Thanksgiving break: Wellness Week.

This break will be the same time frame as the usual Thanksgiving break; however, this year’s time off comes with a twist. It will be a work-free, homework-free break for students and staff so that all may just relax and spend quality time with their family and friends. Students can celebrate their holiday and time off in peace, without the distraction of homework or school- related work haunting their thoughts.

“I think this is a great idea,” junior Alaina Mancini said. “Being an AP student, this gives me a much-needed break.”

While students will reap the benefits of a stress-free break, teachers have been instructed by principal Tom Lietz to enjoy Wellness Weekend, as well. For the duration of the break, teachers will not be planning, grading papers, or entering scores into PowerSchool. Lietz has also asked that school email is not utilized for sending or responding to messages to encourage everyone to spend time unwinding.

Teachers around the building embraced the idea when it was proposed by Lietz.

“I think it’s a great idea,” teacher Steve Haley said. “It gives students a well-deserved break and a chance to be with their families.”
So now that students and teachers are free from homework and anything school-related, it can be time spent more wisely on other tasks or work, as many students have jobs, such as Zoie Starking.

“I am excited that I don’t have homework to worry about,” junior Zoie Starking said, “because I work late and it’s a burden.”

Now if students have to work over break, they don’t have to stress about cramming Thanksgiving in with family, working, and trying to fit in homework all over the few days off they have for break.

“We have a yearbook deadline approaching,” teacher Stacy Smale said. “While I’m reall going to want to check over student submissions, I’m going to force myself to relax and keep my computer turned off. Everything can wait; it’s not going anywhere.”

Wellness Weekend recognizes that everyone needs a break from the stress many experience in school. While students and staff look forward to their first break without expectations, many hope it will be repeated in December.