Lynbrook implements new activities for Homeroom

Anusha Kothari

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After receiving an overwhelming amount of feedback about homeroom from a survey sent out to students and staff last school year, Lynbrook administration sat down with a pair of Lynbrook students from the Youth Public Policy Institution (YPPI) to reconsider the direction of homeroom and plan effective activities for this year. 

In August 2018, seniors Madhavan Anbuchelvan, Patrick Phelan and Nisha Ramanathan, members of YPPI, began developing a curriculum to help relieve stress at Lynbrook. On June 4, they presented their plans to the FUHSD board as a way to improve homeroom. After their proposals were approved, Anbuchelvan and Phelan began working with Principal Maria Jackson to implement their ideas at Lynbrook.

Through the survey sent out last year, Anbuchelvan and Phelan realized that only six percent of students claimed familiarity with the mental health resources available at Lynbrook; consequently, they made it a priority to help students recognize the importance of mental wellness and increase awareness about how to maintain it. According to Phelan, the purpose of homeroom is to equip students with the skills necessary for managing stress as well as teach them how to be mindful of their decisions and how to take care of themselves. 

“It’s hard to really measure how effective homeroom was last year because it was so unstructured,” Phelan said. “This year we’re trying to add a little more structure while giving more freedom to the students.”

Although most homeroom classes will remain study periods, certain topics will be continually discussed throughout the year through planned lessons. The first topic that will be covered is about mindfulness and mindset change; it will focus on providing students with strategies to overcome anxiety and stress. Another topic that will be addressed during the school year is “battery maintenance,” which involves individuals being more aware of themselves, their limits and how they feel during the day. Through this lesson, students will learn not only how to fill their emotional “battery,” but also how to grow it. 

“I think this new program will be successful because we have never had one like it,” Anbuchelvan said. “There will be changes made along the way but it is an improvement from what the school has been doing for homeroom.”

To help promote their new program, Anbuchelvan and Phelan hope to partner with student clubs and organizations on campus through fundraisers, posters and ASB videos. In particular, they plan to work with Aletheia, a student outreach publication that aims to remove the stigma certain topics prevalent in the Lynbrook community. Aletheia’s mental health topic will be shaped around the new homeroom curriculum. 

The new plan also consists of several guest speaker events throughout the year, the first of which took place on Sept. 17 and featured Barbara Sai, co-founder of Up Level. Up Level is a mental health gym located in downtown San Jose that teaches strategies for mental wellness. Sai’s first presentation went hand-in-hand with the topic of mindfulness and mindset change.

Although a majority of the curriculum is yet to be implemented, there is a lot of hope that it will accomplish its primary goal to help Lynbrook students manage their stress. YPPI aspires for their ideas to eventually be implemented throughout the district, not just Lynbrook. They believe it will succeed as long as students wholeheartedly participate in lessons with an open mind.  

“I’m excited to see what students think about [the new homeroom program],” said Anbuchelvan. “That is also what I’m most apprehensive about.”