Imagine being a high school student who’s had a difficult day, then you walk into a comforting space with low lighting, potted plants, crafting projects and soothing music playing in the background. This is exactly what students experience when they enter the Wellness Center at Presentation.

The Wellness Center is a phone-free, screen-free, homework-free environment for students who may be feeling the pressure of high standards and expectations for academic achievement. In the Wellness Center, students are invited for a chance to focus on self-awareness and reflection. They are invited to take a break. For a moment, they are able to pause and escape the busy noise of high school life.

“The Wellness Center is the perfect place for me to go when I’m stressed about school. The moment I walk in, it’s like all of my worries go away! It’s always so warm and welcoming here.” —Maddy S. ‘26

“At Presentation, students are given the opportunity to unplug, slow down, have a ‘human moment,’ then transition back to the flow of their day,” says Wellness Center Coordinator Carmen Pauls Wiens.

Giving Students the Tools to Be Well

Recent studies have shown that stress among American teenagers is on the rise. Presentation believes that the key to a successful life is being well, and the Wellness Center is one of the many resources offered to encourage student wellness. . At the Wellness Center, students learn to practice wellness strategies to help them process difficult emotions. Most of these fall under the following categories:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Conflicts
  • Depression
  • Relationship issues
  • Grief

The Wellness Center is adjacent to the counselors’ offices, but they’re separate entities. Students come to the Wellness Center, oftentimes, because they are in need of a break or need to speak with a counselor. These visits can be used as an opportunity to gain clarity and perspective, engage in a coping skills activity from a rotating menu or just sit in silence and regroup. Pauls Wiens finds that what students need most often is to pause and talk to someone who can help them identify, understand and process what they’re feeling.

“I often ask students, ‘how are you feeling?’ and ‘where does it land in your body’?” Pauls Wiens says.

Wellness and the Advisory Program

Student wellness extends far beyond the walls of the Wellness Center at Presentation. The entire student body and faculty/staff actively participate in the Advisory Program twice per week. The Advisory Program was developed by a team of PRES school administrators, counselors and teachers in response to students' needs and incorporates Socio-Emotional Learning according to CASEL standards. Example units include self-awareness, conflict/stress management and fostering healthy relationships. The Student Services Team also provides a biweekly newsletter to parents to inform them of Advisory Program topics and provide community resources.

Bring Change 2 Mind Club

Students who want to be more involved in on-campus wellness can join the Bring Change 2 Mind Club, which focuses on mental health and ending the stigma around asking for help. This club meets regularly, often over food, to discuss topics of interest in the realm of mental health while building relationships.

Bring Change 2 Mind is a national organization that offers many online and in-person resources for students, including an annual Bay area summit that’s focused on reducing the stigma for mental health. Last year, several students were elected to the youth advisory board, one even selected to speak at an event honoring Melissa McCarthy. This club provides many opportunities, collaborates with other clubs on campus, and is just the beginning for the 2023-2024 school year.

Helping Students Find Balance and Do Well

One of Presentation’s pillars is “balanced growth.” Balanced growth means meeting the high expectations that come with being a student at Presentation while learning to balance all aspects of life and the emotions that come along with them. At the Wellness Center, students are invited to find themselves by coming to a complete stop to assess their feelings or just being allowed to take a break from the rigors of their day.

“We’re always going at very high speeds in life, unwilling or unable to pay attention to what we’re feeling, positive, neutral or negative, about the many demands on our time,” says Pauls Wiens. “We’re already turning to the next thing, even after something good happens.”

The main goal of this emphasis on wellness is allowing students to develop the balance they need to be happy, productive people. Ideally, students can look back at the practices they developed at Presentation as what prepared them to take on life after high school.

Wellness and student achievement go hand in hand. When students feel well, they’re more focused and empowered to accomplish their goals. At Presentation, student success means more than just academic achievement. It’s the balance of both intellectual and personal growth. Contact us today to learn about why Pres might be the best fit for your student.