The Alcorn School District is responding to a need as discovered by students participating in this year’s Junior Leadership Alcorn.
The Alliance Community Development Director Lane Yoder was at the county’s Board of Education meeting on Monday with a few of the 28 students of the Junior Leadership Alcorn class.
A leadership development program for sophomores and juniors from area high schools, Junior Leadership Alcorn asks students to complete a community service project to graduate from the program.
“After talking to the students at the beginning of the program, we decided that the community service project should focus on themselves and their fellow students and the issues causing problems in their lives,” said Yoder. “A survey was sent to all high school students at the city and county schools ... we learned that the number one problem facing young people today is mental health issues, including stress, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and cyberbullying.”
Some of these issues continue to be intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic said the students.
From survey results was born the class’s mental health service project named IDEA (Independent Determination to Encourage Acceptance).
Students completed research on ways to address and help the mental health and wellness of themselves and their peers.
With research and data in hand, students recommended school administration address and promote better and more nurturing positive relationships between students and teachers. They also recommended implementing peer student groups with the overall goal to improve the mental health and wellbeing of teenagers.
County school leadership responded in a big way to those recommendations.
The board announced Monday the purchase of social and emotional support training for staff members called Capturing Kids Hearts. The school district plans to spend $198,000 on the research-based processes to improve the key indicators of school performance and social and emotional issues among students.
Plans also include the hiring of a social-emotional coach that according to Alcorn School District Superintendent Brandon Quinn will work with all three campuses alongside school counselors.
“These components are very important for the district to continue serving the needs of all of our students,” said Quinn.
The programs will be available to students at Alcorn School, Biggersville and Kossuth later this year.