On March 9, Rocky View's Summit Trails Online High School held a wellness summit. The summit, as described by the school's website was meant to allow students to hear topics of interest and interact with speakers, but also to refresh students' and faculty's understanding of personal wellness.

Speakers this year included JD Hunter with the Mental Health Commission of Canada, Kyle Young Pine Piita Aapasskaan, an Eagle Fancy Dancer, Nathan Moore of the RCMP, as well as Genesis Lamboson a musician, to name a few. The student leadership group at the school created and decided on the topics of the sessions. Grade 12 student Ella who is part of the student leadership group said that the wellness summit for her is crucial.

"It means so much to me that my school is actually showing that they care about mental health and that they are actively being involved in our lives and showing us that it means more to them than just a speech at the beginning of a class," Ella said. 

One of the sessions she was looking forward to in particular was a session about relationships and how to spot the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship.

"I think it would just be an incredible opportunity for all of us to learn more about how we can create better relationships and interpersonal relationships not only with our family but with our friends and our community around us."

Although COVID-19 disruptions in schools have been decreasing due to the pandemic ebbing, she underlined that the past several years of her schooling and her mental health were severely impacted.

"My mental health took like a really, really deep dive. I started not going to school and not being as excited as I was before."

In a perhaps surprising decision, she switched to a fully online format and enrolled at Summit Trails, adding that because of her anxiety, it was the best choice for her.

"This switch was massive but it helped me so much and it honestly it improved my mental health so much," she said. 

In a few months' time, Ella will be graduating and plans to spend her next year volunteering to save sea turtles in Sri Lanka.

Like Ella, Grade 11 student Anika Kumar, who is also in the student leadership group, concurred with her peer that COVID-19 was very difficult for many students. Kumar admitted that because of her support system within her family, she was able to take care of her mental health during the pandemic, however, she said that one thing she has struggled with is procrastination. The topic of procrastination was one of the many sessions that was addressed at the wellness summit.

"I [was] looking forward most to it. But more than that, there are a lot of lived experience seminars where it's people talking about their own lives and their own issues and it's so inspiring," she said. " The solutions they give; it feels a lot more doable to see them as someone who has done it."

Although Kumar says that procrastination is an issue for her, she has organized her time so well that she is graduating a year early and has been accepted into the University of Calgary. She plans on studying political science and is hoping to go on to study journalism.

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