8th Period Stress Relief
The Downward-facing Dog and the Pyramid Pose are a few techniques that Needham High School seniors in Massachusetts are learning in their mandatory yoga classes. Instituting mandatory yoga and hiring relaxation consultants is the work of the school’s newly formed Stress Reduction Committee.
Headed by principal Paul Richards, the student committee is part of a growing movement among administrators to combat anxiety caused by the competitive and academically driven culture of many affluent suburban high schools. “A lot of these kids are being held hostage to the culture,” Richards says.
The environment, which places great emphasis on grades, test scores, and acceptance at Ivy League institutions, detracts students from fully engaging with school, according to Richards, who has headed the school for three years. Other Boston schools have followed suit, with some requiring students to get parental permission to enroll in Advanced Placement courses, and others experimenting with school start times so students can get more sleep. Richards says his goal is not to alter the school’s record of high achievement, but instead, he insists “it’s...about bringing the culture to a healthier place.”