Life Skills Day 2022

On Thursday, November 17, students in Classes 8-11 took a break from their regular schedules – and their uniforms – for our annual Life Skills Day! This special programming featured workshops designed to help students build the skills they need that may not fall into traditional academic studies. (Class 12 used this time to complete college applications.)

The day kicked off with a keynote speech titled, “A Better High” by Dr. Matthew Bellace, author of the best-selling book of the same name. Dr. Bellace has a Ph.D. in clinical neuropsychology, the study of brain and behavior, and is a public speaker and comedian.

His informative talk with the Upper School students focused on the importance of support systems, good coping strategies, and staying drug- and alcohol-free, while infusing clever jokes and age-appropriate references.

“Personally, my favorite part of his keynote was when the entire Upper School busted out singing along to ‘Party in the USA’ by Miley Cyrus,” said Middle and Upper School Health Educator, and Life Skills host, Sarah Cyr-Mutty. “The connection? The song lyrics describe how Miley used music as a healthy way of coping with her social anxiety.”

The day, which was planned and executed by our US Health & Wellness reps in collaboration with Chapin’s Health & Counseling Department, was a resounding success.

“It was a fun, high-energy day where students were able to relax, have fun, and learn skills simultaneously,” Ms. Cyr-Mutty shared. “Not only did our students have a great time learning from our external presenters (as well as a few Chapin adults), but the presenters all reported that our students were highly engaged and wonderful to work with.”

After the keynote, students transitioned to learning* workshops, which they were able to choose for themselves from a list of choices curated by the Health & Wellness reps, followed by active** workshops and, lastly, “Speed Skills.” Below are a few examples of student feedback and a brief overview of the wide-ranging workshops offered.

  • “I really enjoyed it. I think the structure was perfect because it didn't feel like an overload of information, but like a nice balance of learning and activities.”
  • “I HAD SO MUCH FUN.”
  • “I thought it was very fun and informative. I loved the presenter and active workshops.”
  • “I LOVED the guy who was the keynote speaker!!! He made everything so interesting and told funny stories that were relevant to the points he was trying to get across. I want more speakers like him!”
  • “I really enjoyed the keynote – super engaging and fun”
  • “I really liked the workshops and schedule, and I enjoyed the speakers a lot."
  • “Life Skills Day was very fun. I especially enjoyed the speaker and the speed skills section.”
  • “I think it was nice to hear some outside voices [in the workshops] or some that went to Chapin, too.”

*Descriptions of Learning Workshop to Choose From:

Making the Political Personal Without Losing Your Mind with Georgina Emerson ’05
“Anyone who engages in politics or activism can have trouble unplugging from the fight for a better world. In this workshop, students explored ways to maintain integrity, conviction, and sanity while standing up to systems of oppression. They will develop concrete practices to use in your own life and see how some important activists used writing, art, and relationships to maintain their equilibrium.”

Financial Nutrition with Nina Gunderson ’11
“Having financial nutrition is a critical part of living a healthy life. In this workshop, students will build knowledge and skills for personal finance topics. This workshop will touch on subjects such as budgeting, saving, credit, and investing. The objective is to empower you to manage your finances in a way that is aligned with your values and your goals.”

Storytelling Through Zine-Making with Mangda Sengvanhpheng
“Unlock your creative storytelling through zine-making. In this workshop, students will learn what zines are and choose your art-making mediums of choice to express your own original story. You will leave with a completed zine to share with others (if you’d like)!”

The Chapin Coven with Ninamarie Ochoa, US Equity Coordinator and teacher
“How can we care for ourselves through practices like tarot, astrology, and poetry? Although Western culture often trivializes these schools of thought, these are ancient traditions that can serve as vehicles for reflection, expression, envisioning, and healing. Together, we'll explore starting points for leveraging these practices for self-care.”

Nourishing the Body & Mind with Nicole Sohayegh, MS, RD, CLT
“Nutrition plays a major role in how we think and feel but schoolwork, friends, sports, and social media can pull us away from listening to our needs and our body. During this workshop, students will learn the stages of hunger and fullness, how to nourish your body mindfully, and learn how to make a simple and delicious recipe to help increase energy.”

Rewriting Our Stories with Melissa Meléndez
“You are the main character in your story! Oftentimes, people have had more practice adopting and internalizing negative stories about themselves, especially when conflict or failure occurs. The goal of this workshop is to reclaim the story that best honors who we are by seeing ourselves as complex characters in this grand story we call life!”

Relax, Unwind, and Get Organized with Desiree Campbell
“Join us as we learn tips and tricks to help you make the most out of the time that you have. You will explore a powerful way to remember what you study and learn a little about your sleep routines. Set up some healthy habits that can help you stay consistent!”

The Quiet Space with Victoria Greene
“Give yourself a gift. Learn how to create a quiet space for yourself whenever you feel overwhelmed. We will use sounds, scents, and guided meditation to help you to relax.”

**Active Workshops:
~ Sweet, Sweet Yoga (with Head of School Suzanne Fogarty)
~ Stretch 'n' (Foam) Roll (with Interim Assistant Athletic Director Reese Maccario)
~ Be Quiet! (Silent Room) (with Head of Counseling Services Rona Shalev)
~ Let Loose: Just Dance & Karaoke Party (with Director of Student Life Tre Monshizadeh)
~Rage Room (Tossing soft objects in the Gym with Head of US P.E. Mike Davis)
~Pet Some Therapy Dogs (with New York Therapy Animals)