The Wellness Center


Courtesy of Shea Perico


               When students are feeling stressed at Rio Norte Junior High, they can take a mental break at the Wellness Center. The Wellness Center is located in the library and is open every day from 8:30 A.M. to 3 P.M. depending on the library hours. No appointment is needed and you’re able to come whenever, even during class for a limit of 15-20 minutes. It is also open during brunch and lunch but it is not a hangout spot. Just for relaxing. When students go to the Wellness Center they will either see Rogelio on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Friday or Maddy on Wednesdays and Thursdays. They are there for emotional support. 

           Rogelio started working at the Wellness Center around the middle of November. He believes that the Wellness Center is a place to relieve stress, relax from a bad day, have time for yourself to recover, study for a test, perhaps take a nap if you did not sleep well or enough, and feel better in general. He said, “I like seeing students feel better with their mental health and feel confident to seek out more support.” He likes seeing students going to the Wellness Center and leaving happier than when they came in. He believes that it is the place you can go when you feel there is nowhere else to go to. Then when they leave they can feel better about themselves. Rogelio’s favorite part of the Wellness Center is the couch and the blankets for taking naps and if he added anything to it, it would be something for massages and relaxing physically. He is there for students who need assistance and support with a bad day or is anxious for a test and he can help with ways to study like flashcards.

Principal Ferry enjoys the Wellness Center because he thinks of it as a place to decompress and develop healthy coping skills with the proper supervision. Mr. Ferry believes the Wellness Center helps you understand that we have support in place for students. He also would like people who actually need it to start going there. He stated that a wellness center is a coping place NOT A HANGOUT PLACE.

        Counselor Mrs. Burns was one of the main people to have the idea and to create the Wellness Center. Counselors’ goal is to bring students from feeling nervous or anxious to calm. Her goal for students is to decompress for 5-10 minutes in the Wellness Center and then go back outside. She came up with this idea after seeing a lot of students come to her in crisis or just having a bad day. When she kept seeing this pattern she came up with this idea. Her main goal for the wellness center is to provide a comfortable environment for the short term. If you have seen her room you may notice it is like a mimic copy of the wellness center. Even though she wants students to enjoy it, she wants it for the right reasons. It is not a hangout spot and if students need more than a couple of minutes they are sent to their counselors. She wanted to provide that but for more students to relax. Even though the Wellness Center is taking off she doesn’t feel she has accomplished as much as she could for it. Mrs. Burns would like to create a learning environment for it like yoga, meditation, exercises, and to create workshops from it. But for this, she needs the right people to run them. “I want it to evolve. I want to go from a place where kids can reset their emotions, to a place where they can also get educated.” 

           The eighth-grader, Elijah Guttierez talked about how much the Wellness Center helps him. “Whenever school is too much to handle or if I ever have anything happening at home I always come here. They are so kind and understanding. This place was a great help to me during finals week. It helps me take a deep breath and get reminded it will be okay.” I asked 7th grader Aliya Vanderhoven why the wellness center was important to her, she replied “the wellness center is important to me because it’s somewhere to calm down and let loose when you are feeling down or stressed” 8th grader Sophia Huerta feels that the wellness center is very important because it truly shows that the school really cares about the students’ mental health. 

          St. Petersburg college experimented in 2016 with two students. One took two-second study breaks while the other took 30-minute breaks. The studies showed that the students that took the longer breaks ended up doing better.. You could get a snack, talk to your family or friends, or just go outside and get fresh air.

         However, The wellness center is not the only place you can go to talk to someone about your stress. The school counselors, Mrs. Burns (A-G), Mrs. Ferry (H-O), or Mrs. Racina (P-Z) are always there to help students. If you ever want to email your counselor, go to the Rio Norte website, look up their emails, and set up an appointment.

            At school, never feel like you have nowhere to turn to when you feel stressed out or overwhelmed during tests. It is completely normal to feel stressed, so here, at Rio Norte, we have tons of solutions to help you with these problems. 

For More information, go to the Rio Norte Website and click “Counseling”.