“I hope to see Tranquil Tuesday continue to grow.” - Julia Satterthwaite
Playing board games, making friendship bracelets and singing karaoke are all activities that have happened at Tranquil Tuesday sessions — a new concept that began this school year with the intent to relieve stress levels within the academic atmosphere by promoting self-care. These sessions are made available to students every Tuesday during tutorial and lunch in room A112.
Read on to learn more about the growth of Tranquil Tuesday.
“We have a culture at our campus that seems to feed into stress and competition,” English teacher Julia Satterthwaite said. “I think students at MVHS feel the weight of that culture often. And so a group of like-minded staff members said, ‘Hey, let’s try to do something about that, to combat this feeling that all we ever do here is study, freak out [and] worry about failure.’”
After noticing the stress among students due to MVHS culture, Satterthwaite and chemistry teacher Kavita Gupta decided to take action to bring healthy mental health practices in motion.
One idea Satterthwaite and Gupta brainstormed was the concept of a student wellness center. They proposed to convert room A112 into a student wellness center that can provide students with immediate emotional support.
“[The counselors are] already stretched way thin,” Satterthwaite said. “And [the wellness center] just would be nice to have a place where people could go to get help right in the moment, rather than stuffing down their feelings and trying to suck it up and wait until that counselor is available to meet next week.
Even though the wellness center has not yet become a reality, the pair found a more inexpensive alternative, and the idea of a weekly Tranquil Tuesday was born.
“We were thinking about what would it look like to engage with students in a non-academic way,” Gupta said. “And we thought, ‘Okay, let’s start small, where one day a week, we can have a place where different teachers would come and do some things with students that are non-academic.”
According to Gupta and Satterthwaite, Tranquil Tuesday was created with the purpose as a mental health initiative for MVHS students by allowing them to participate in activities unrelated to school to connect more with their peers and MVHS faculty on a human-to-human level. However, Gupta acknowledges that achieving this task will not be easy.
“I think wellness is a very long-term thing,” Gupta said. “I don’t think you do an activity and you just get well, but I think it’s a first step in the right direction.”
Ordering markers, crayons and “good vibe” coloring books, English teacher Julia Satterthwaite thought that her coloring session on Aug. 27 went smoothly, despite leading the first Tranquil Tuesday.
“I didn’t think anyone was going to show up or at least I wasn’t sure who would show up,” Satterthwaite said. “So I was pleasantly surprised that [during both] tutorial and lunch, people showed up and seem to have a good time just coloring and relaxing and chatting with each other.”
Contrary to Satterthwaite’s experience, student advocate Richard Prinz’s session on Sept. 17 didn’t go as smoothly, since there were no attendees at his joke and meditation session. According to Prinz, the reason for the lack of turnout was not only because he didn’t advertise the session well, but he also believes that there’s a lack of interest in his activity.
“Even in our culture, overall, there aren’t a lot of people who are interested in or see the benefits of meditation,” Prinz said. “Some of them have ideas about it or they tried it and they felt [that] they couldn’t do it, so they give up.”
The most popular Tranquil Tuesday was planting potted succulents, led by science teachers Sushma Bana and Kavita Gupta on Sept. 24. Both were surprised by the amount of participation, as they ran out of succulents early on during lunch. Bana was also able connect with students through sharing conversations about their personal experiences with succulents.
English and AVID teacher Lynn Rose decided to volunteer for Tranquil Tuesday to help provide students with potential activities to do during tutorial and lunch and to give them a break from academics. While she would have liked more turn out to her board game session on Oct. 1, she still believes the students that did come enjoyed themselves.
“I played UNO, Sorry and Jenga. And there [was] a lot of laughing, and one group of kids played music, so it was a lot of fun,” Rose said. But I’m hoping next time to get more people to attend.”
Click here for an interactive timeline of the first nine Tranquil Tuesdays to learn more about the activities volunteers selected.
At the Sept. 24 succulent Tranquil Tuesday session, sophomore Geeta Karlcut was able to obtain two succulents, which she named Eggboi and Eggplant respectively, and enjoyed decorating the succulent pots.
Even though she likes the idea of Tranquil Tuesday, she has not been able to attend any other session for academic reasons. She also believes that this may be a reason for the sparse attendance for certain sessions.
“I don’t think that many [students] go to Tranquil Tuesday because maybe they have other things to do, like making up a test, studying or doing homework,” Karlcut said. “I think quite a few people have gone, but I don’t know if it’s a big thing.”
Senior Sarah Young has also noticed the lacking attendance at Tranquil Tuesdays, as she was the first student to lead a session: pointillism marker art. Young didn’t anticipate that many people would come to her session.
“Tutorial was pretty empty because most students are out studying and doing work,” Young said. “They haven’t come in much during lunch. I wasn’t expecting very many people to come anyhow.”
Being the only participant at Prinz’s latest Tranquil Tuesday on Oct. 15, Young has found student participation disparity among different sessions correlating with a general interest in the activity itself.
“That’s kind of the purpose of Tranquil Tuesday — to make kids more relaxed,” Young said. “And so it’s somewhat disappointing when the very activity [meditation] that is really focused on that is the one in which no one attends.”
Despite the lack of attendance in Tranquil Tuesdays, senior Sean Chen doesn’t feel that Tranquil Tuesdays are seen in a negative light by MVHS students, since students have the choice to opt in.
“You can choose to go [to Tranquil Tuesday] depending on the activity that’s there,” Chen said. “And you’re definitely not required to do it. So I think [MVHS students] either think like, “Oh, Tranquil Tuesday, this is cool,’ or they’re indifferent about it.”
Chen believes that Tranquil Tuesdays can be effective in helping out with MVHS student wellness, but also points out that there are other underlying causes of stress, such as pressures from home. He acknowledges that these problems may prove difficult for the school to resolve and alleviate alone.
“It’s kind of hard for a school to change culture at home,” Chen said. “If they can figure out something that addresses that [culture], I would say that’s what [they] want to do. Because what’s stressed at home is this vague proposition of success. And if the school is able to redefine what success is for kids and how to get there, I would say that’s how you would change people’s mental health.”
Despite typically being busy with academics, Chen may still attend Tranquil Tuesday in the future if there is another succulent planting session or if another activity piques his interest. Karlcut also expresses her desire to attend another Tranquil Tuesday as well.
“I don’t think I can go to every one,” Karlcut said. “But some of [the activities] seem really cool.”