CIS Hosts First Health and Wellness Day at New Mexico High School
Communities In Schools® (CIS®) of New Mexico has four site coordinators who collaborate to identify and remove barriers to student and schoolwide success for the 1,397 students enrolled at Capital High School (CHS), located on the south side of Santa Fe, NM. Recognizing a post-pandemic need for increased social-emotional support for the entire school community, site coordinator Sinte Torrez spearheaded the school's first-ever Health and Wellness Day with the help of his CIS colleagues, CHS Student Council, and Teacher Rachel Flores, who leads the Student Council.
When students returned from remote learning, they seemed less social and more willing to make negative choices (i.e., fighting, skipping school, and using substances). With coordinated Health and Wellness Days, we can find time to discuss these trends and find solutions. Academics are certainly important, but how kids feel as individuals and how we honor and respect their needs is how we are going to get them to that academic success.
– Sinte Torrez, CIS Site Coordinator at Capital High School
CIS recognizes the importance of programming committed to the health and wellness of students; this is why affiliates incorporate social-emotional learning (SEL) strategies within student activities. Throughout the day, teachers were given SEL activities to choose from to offer their classes, including team-building and meditation exercises–and the whole school participated!
We need Social Emotional Learning activities in our schools every day; we certainly need more of it. Between the school shootings and Covid and just the overall state of the planet, many of our students are scared; they have a lot of trauma, and that detracts from their learning.
– Ms. Koneman, Special Education Teacher at Capital High School
When asked about their experience, one student said, “We played games and had discussions about life.” Another student, Isiah, said, “I met a couple of kids that I hadn't met before, so that was pretty cool.” As for Ms. Koneman, she started incorporating Social Emotional Learning activities into her classroom every Friday.
For the assembly, Sinte and the team wanted to reach students through music, storytelling, and humor. In the spirit of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Sinte felt that having a Native American rapper was a perfect match. The Native American student population at CHS is less than 5 percent. “We wanted to acknowledge them and give them a voice too,” said Sinte. “Everyone wants to feel heard and represented, and that is our goal. We want students to feel comfortable and respected, and we want to equip them with tools to make it through these hard times.”
Albuquerque Diné rapper Def-i and Santa Fe DJ 13pieces (Justin Ray) gave an energizing performance at the Health and Wellness Day assembly. Def-i inspired students with a message about achieving academic and personal success. You can see a clip of his performance right here!
The CIS of New Mexico team reported seeing students' and teachers' smiles all day.
This is an example of what our team is doing to bring more positive, fun, and healthy activities and role models into our schools. I've envisioned this since last year, so to see it through to fruition was really rewarding.
– Sinte Torrez
What is social-emotional learning and why is it important?
Social-emotional learning (SEL) is how young people and adults acquire various non-academic skills to set goals, manage behavior, build relationships, and process and remember information. CIS provides SEL programming through our evidence-based model of integrated student supports to aid students in identifying and managing their emotions, building meaningful connections, and making responsible decisions that promote a more just and equitable society.
Developing SEL skills is an integral part of education and human development. Research suggests that participation in SEL programs can improve students’ academic achievement, reduce delinquency and other challenging behaviors, and increase the likelihood of graduation, postsecondary enrollment, and postsecondary completion.
By prioritizing SEL, we can build a future of critical, empathetic thinkers who understand how to engage in civic life and their communities thoughtfully.
We hope you'll join us in congratulating the CIS of New Mexico team at Capital High School for being #AllinforKids and their social and emotional well-being!