Opportunities for students to participate in community service activities have been reduced because of health and safety protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic, but members of one Massapequa High School club found a way to make a positive difference.
The Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) club donated $500 to Mission 34, an organization based in Charlotte, NC, that is devoted to eliminating the stigma surrounding mental illness through awareness, education and communication.
During Superintendent’s Conference Day on Nov. 3, the district’s health education teachers participated in a virtual workshop with representatives from Mission 34, including founder Heather Bonner and clinical psychologist Jennifer Fights. They shared with teachers different strategies that can be incorporated into the existing mental health curriculum to connect with students as they are living through the COVID-19 pandemic. Massapequa’s health educators now have an increased tool chest to help students become creative problem solvers, to develop a solution-focused mindset and to build resiliency skills.
SADD adviser Angela Gallucci and co-Presidents Katherine Castoria and Paige Margiotta attended the Dec. 3 Board of Education meeting to announce the donation. They were joined by health education Chairwoman Denise Baldinger, who teaches at the Ames Campus, Berner health teacher Denise Robertson, high school health teacher Michael LaBella and Ames students Ava Gerrain and Phoebe Elliott. Art teacher Paul Leone made the novelty check for the presentation—the real one will be mailed to Mission 34.
Gerrain and Elliott talked about some of the skills and strategies they have learned in health class that foster social and emotional wellness, and expressed their appreciation for having teachers who care for and support them.
Gallucci said that the donation was made using SADD funds from fundraising activities held prior to the pandemic. She said supporting an organization that trains teachers, who ultimately pass that knowledge onto students, falls right in line with the mission of SADD.
—Submitted by the Massapequa School District