School Stress: How to Manage It


Mental health issues are a common struggle among many people, especially teens, and the Covid-19 pandemic did not make this struggle any easier. After interviewing Poland Seminary High School counselors Mr. Vagas and Mrs. Calderon, we were informed about many of the changed performances and behaviors in students as a result.

During Covid-19, our classrooms were changed back and forth from indefinitely online, to in person, to online, etc. This occurrence was obviously not ideal and took a toll on many students. We asked interviewees Mrs. Calderon and Mr. Vagas to comment on grades being affected during these times.

Mrs. Calderon said, “The transition of online to in person affected strategies and learning styles, so it affected everyone.”

Mr. Vagas echoed this fact in discussing the effects of some of the changes.

He commented that there were “higher numbers of at risk students” due to possible disengagement.

Both counselors gave some strategies. They suggested that kids get back into a routine and set time aside for academic support for those struggling with grades. 

Vagas’s strategy for those struggling with mental health was to fill time with productive activities such as clubs, music, and athletics. This would help with socialization, communication, and filling empty time with healthy habits. Vagas also stated that “avoiding isolation is important” and to get friends that may seem distant, involved. 

Due to the traumas of Covid, going back into school and the normal classroom can be a daunting task. We asked Mrs. Calderon to comment about what students should do when they feel sudden anxiety, and feelings of being overwhelmed.

She suggested that putting coping skills in place in regards to anxiety that will help as an individual would help greatly. These skills may include: deep breathing, going for a walk,  listening to music, adult coloring etc. 

Behavior has also been hugely affected due to Covid-19. It has been seen very clearly this year.

Mr. Vagas had mentioned, “If there is a disruption in student and adult expectations, there will be a transition period of getting back to normal behavior.”

There has been somewhat of a transition on how to act in the school environment, but behavior has changed a lot negatively. Dependency on social media has increased, and the impact has affected their behaviors.

With it being the start of a new quarter, it gives students a new opportunity for a fresh start.

We asked Mr. Vagas and Mrs. Calderon to comment on strategies to manage work and stress.

Mrs. Calderon said, “Time management and organization is huge.”

She also suggests that a planner and Google Classroom are great tools. 

Mr. Vagas stated, “Take time and reflect.”

He suggested setting goals and evaluating what you should change, and try not to take on any problems all at once.

Despite a lot of negative results of the pandemic, we asked if either of them have seen a raise in grades. Vagas mentioned that some have benefited from coming back; some are struggling with it.

On the other side of things, many were relieved to be removed from the social anxieties of high school.

Both sides have equally shown, and even people put through both have prospered in either areas. 

Adults can also have an impact on the mental health of students, so we decided to see if there was anything parents, teachers, or any other adult figures could do to ease the stress of students. Mrs. Calderon mentioned that teachers have office hours on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

She said, “Our doors are always open.” She also reminded us that parents usually have feelings when something is wrong with their children, and they will be able to give any resources their kids will need. 

Lastly, we wanted to be informed on common mental health signs that can be seen in others in the case of an emergency. Both Mrs. Calderon and Mr. Vagas gave us information on what to look for in our peers and suggested that friends should keep an eye on what somebody may be posting on social media that may be out of the ordinary. Body language signs include being tired from not being able to sleep due to stress and anxiety. They also recommended that students look out for each other no matter if signs are present yet or not.

Returning to the old ways of learning are affecting students in a variety of ways that we must look out for. Be mindful of those around you. If you notice any negative changes in behavior or in mental health in your friends or peers as the school year continues, please reach out to Mrs. Calderon, Mr. Vagas, a teacher or principal, or even a parent.