Great Neck North hosts Mental Health and Wellness Week

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North High school psychologist Dr. Anton Berzins, guest speaker and sports psychologist Dr. Issac Zur, school psychologist Dr. David Cheng, and school social worker Oana Scholl. (Photo courtesy of the Great Neck Public Schools)
North High school psychologist Dr. Anton Berzins, guest speaker and sports psychologist Dr. Issac Zur, school psychologist Dr. David Cheng, and school social worker Oana Scholl. (Photo courtesy of the Great Neck Public Schools)

Great Neck North High School hosted their Mental Health and Wellness Week from Dec. 12 through Dec. 19, featuring daily announcements, guest speakers and student-led presentations focusing on wellbeing.

Each morning started with school-wide announcements relating to mental health and wellness. SADD Club members also created posters and positive affirmation cards that circulated throughout the building.

Experts representing a wide range of mental, physical, and emotional health specialties visited the building to present to students during physical education classes.

North High school psychologist Dr. Anton Berzins, guest speaker and sports psychologist Dr. Issac Zur, school psychologist Dr. David Cheng, and school social worker Oana Scholl. (Photo courtesy of the Great Neck Public Schools)
North High school psychologist Dr. Anton Berzins, guest speaker and sports psychologist Dr. Issac Zur, school psychologist Dr. David Cheng, and school social worker Oana Scholl. (Photo courtesy of the Great Neck Public Schools)

The week kicked off with guest speaker Dr. Issac Zur, a sports and performance psychologist who helps elite athletes overcome pressure and anxiety to perform at their best. Zur explained the mind-body connection and led interactive demonstrations to show the affects of stress on the body, such as increased heart rate. Students learned strategies like controlled breathing and focused concentration to help them overcome their own stressful situations.

The following day, John Cirilo and his team of coaches from NXT GEN Fitness led students through a number of fun and engaging activities designed to improve speed, strength, agility, endurance, jumping ability, and confidence. According to Cirilo, many experts view the ages of 12 to 18 as the most ideal ages for developing speed, strength, and power over an athlete’s entire lifetime.

Yoga instructors Lisa Bondy, Andrea Weisban, and Missy Leder from the Center for Wellness & Integrative Medicine led students through yoga movements to help improve focus, concentration, and mindfulness. (Photo courtesy of the Great Neck Public Schools)
Yoga instructors Lisa Bondy, Andrea Weisban, and Missy Leder from the Center for Wellness & Integrative Medicine led students through yoga movements to help improve focus, concentration, and mindfulness. (Photo courtesy of the Great Neck Public Schools)

On Dec. 14, the program focused on a holistic approach for improving physical and mental health. Maddy Mindich of North Nassau Acupuncture explained the benefits of holistic healing remedies and shared relaxation training techniques with students and staff. Yoga instructors Lisa Bondy, Andrea Weisban, and Missy Leder from the Center for Wellness & Integrative Medicine led students through yoga movements to help improve focus, concentration, and mindfulness.

Mental Health and Wellness Week wrapped up on Dec. 17 and Dec. 18 with peer performances designed to initiate a dialogue about various issues and remind students about school resources that are available to help.

North High theatre teacher Ilana Meredith with students from her acting and improv classes who performed original skits about mental health issues for ninth graders. (Photo courtesy of the Great Neck Public Schools)
North High theatre teacher Ilana Meredith with students from her acting and improv classes who performed original skits about mental health issues for ninth graders. (Photo courtesy of the Great Neck Public Schools)

Students in Ilana Meredith’s acting and improv classes at North High performed original skits for ninth graders about mental and emotional health issues, as seen through the eyes of young adults. After each skit, audience members participated in small group discussions facilitated by North High school psychologists, social workers, principal Daniel Holtzmanand.

This was the second-annual Mental Health and Wellness Week at North High. The activities were organized by the school’s Mental Health Team, with support from physical education faculty and building staff. The Mental Health Team is comprised of the school’s social worker, school psychologists and members of the guidance department, health department, and building administration.

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