Hamden Hall Country Day School

Educating students in PreSchool through Grade 12

Wellness Assembly Addresses Healthy Relationships

The opening slide of a wellness assembly for sophomores and juniors last week stated the obvious: “It’s complicated.”

Students learned about healthy relationships from two psychologists with Shoreline Psychological of Madison, a practice with whom Hamden Hall has partnered as part of the school’s expanded Health and Wellness curriculum. The event was sponsored by former Hamden Hall English teacher Bill Hunter and his alumni daughters, Joycelin and Rebecca, Classes of 2007 and 2012, respectively, and the DiMaria family; in memory of the late Margaret DiMaria Hunter.

“Before you can have healthy relationships, you have to be healthy yourself,” Katharine C. Bernstein, Ph.D, told students. “You have to value yourself first.”

Students were asked to think about what they are currently balancing in their lives – from dating to friends to work and extracurricular activities. Each was given a blank pie chart and asked to fill out their individual category slices. In moving forward with relationships, students were advised to think about the pie charts of a potential friend or date to ensure that there is at least some similarity between the two, according to psychologist Lucy Faulkner, M.A.

Red flags to be considered in any relationship include jealousy and control.

“It’s unhealthy if neither one of you can do anything without the other,” said Dr. Bernstein. “If there’s one thing to take away, it’s that you should still feel like you in any relationship.”

Also unhealthy is when someone has to like or do all of the same things as another person and can’t have a different opinion. “You feel like they own your choices,” said Ms. Faulkner.

A dialogue on social media and “digital drama” closed out the assembly with students watching two brief videos featuring young people discussing their thoughts on the subject. Students were instructed that more than two hours a day on social media can lead to depression.

“We just want you to be aware of how much time you’re spending on social media,” said Dr. Bernstein. “There are positive aspects of social media, and it’s great in small doses.”

Opening remarks from Mr. Hunter regarding his late wife, who passed away tragically 25 years ago, focused on wellness and making health a priority. Margaret Hunter was a nurse at Waterbury Hospital from 1976 to 2001.

“Without a doubt, Margaret subscribed to the goals of healing and wellness throughout her illustrious career,” said Mr. Hunter. “Her dedication to her patients was legendary, and she helped train many groups of Yale University medical students in ‘bedside manner’ and the art of talking to patients in various stages of illness.”

Hamden Hall's Health and Wellness curriculum helps students build social-emotional skills useful for managing their time, physical health, mental health, and relationships. In addition to existing health curriculum covered in health-related assemblies, advisee group activities, or specific courses such as seventh-grade science, ninth-grade Peer Leadership, or tenth-grade health, Hamden Hall's expanded Health and Wellness curriculum includes several new components such as Grades 4-6 health and wellness workshops and Grades 7-8 health and wellness classes taught by science teacher Beth Richter. Shoreline Psychological staff is also providing education workshops to faculty and parents.

A Wellness Curriculum Task Force chaired by Ms. Richter was established during the 2017-2018 school year to research possible curricula to assist students in Grades 6 through 10 as they navigate a variety of life challenges. Since that time, additional grade levels have been added as has enhanced programming.

Parents are invited to attend a panel discussion on April 15 at 7:15 p.m. called "Ask a Psychologist." Specialists from Shoreline Psychological will address parents’ questions of concern. In order to help tailor the seminar to specific needs, parents are asked to complete a brief anonymous survey, which was emailed earlier this week.

Please contact coordinator Beth Richter at brichter@hamdenhall.org. with any questions or concerns.

Hamden Hall Country Day School

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Hamden Hall Country Day School is a nurturing and inclusive community with a dynamic learning environment that promotes academic excellence by understanding each child and fostering their individual growth.