Wellness centers open at two junior highs

Dignitaries and the Ranch Pico Junior High School Principal, Erum Velek second from left, are surprised as the scissors finally cut the ribbon during the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new wellness center at Ranch Pico Junior High School in Stevenson Ranch on Thursday, February 27, 2020. Dan Watson/the Signal
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Ribbons were cut in celebration of opening two wellness centers within the William S. Hart Union High School District Thursday.

The wellness centers, named “the relaxation room” at Rancho Pico Junior High School and “the break room” at Arroyo Seco Junior High School, officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a tour of the rooms at each campus.

“The WiSH Foundation began funding the implementation of wellness rooms back in June of 2019,” said Amy Daniels, executive director of the WiSH Foundation. “But the Saugus shooting happened, and it accelerated everything. Getting these rooms done became a priority.”

Dignitaries tour the “Relaxation Room” after the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new wellness center at Ranch Pico Junior High School in Stevenson Ranch on Thursday, February 27, 2020. Dan Watson/the Signal

The relaxation room at Rancho Pico is a cell phone-free zone, where a basket sits at the entrance so phones can be collected. Students can sit at the tables, on bean bag chairs or the couch while reading or interacting with others.

Yoga instruction and other activities will be available at the relaxation room.

“We’re basically taking everything you could be doing in the comfort of your own home and bringing it to school,” said Kathryn Perez, an eight-grade student and member of Club Thrive, the wellness organization at Rancho Pico.

Linda Storli, board president of the Hart District, said it’s been a big project to bring the wellness centers to schools in the district, and describes walking in as “an immediate stress-reliever.”

William S. Hart Union High School District Board President, Linda Storli, left, chats with Rancho Pico Junior High School students during the tour of the “Relaxation Room” after the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new wellness center at Ranch Pico Junior High School in Stevenson Ranch on Thursday, February 27, 2020. Dan Watson/the Signal

To celebrate the opening of “The Break Room” at Arroyo Seco, school officials brought in mental and physical health organizations so students and their parents can be aware of the local resources.

While taking a tour of the room, attendees were also able to visit baby goats brought in the Straightening Reins organization, and pet therapy dogs that have made appearances at many junior and high schools.

“We’re fortunate to live in a community with so many local resources,” said Andy Keyne, principal of Arroyo Seco and added students have said the wellness center looks like a place that wouldn’t be on a school campus.

“We wanted to create a space on campus where students,” Keyne said, “and staff can literally take a break when they experience stress or need to relax a little bit.”

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