The start of 2018 brought fresh goals, renewed outlooks, and frigid weather to the Watchung Hills community. Following students’ return from a relaxing winter break, the halls were buzzing with talk of holiday vacations, funny stories of family gatherings, and for some seniors, exciting college acceptances. A couple days later, students were quickly met with two consecutive snow days and subzero temperatures, that enhanced the post-holiday winter spirit. Some Warriors used the opportunity to indulge in their favorite winter pastimes, like skiing, snowboarding, or ice-skating, while others took the time to get a head start on preparations for end-of-semester tests. No matter how they chose to spend their snow days, all of Watchung Hills has jumped into the New Year with the prospect of exhilarating new endeavors in mind.
January brought a plethora of events to the Hills, including a moving presentation by former NBA player, Chris Herren. Mr. Herren brought his story of drug addiction and mental health struggles to the community. He urged parents to open the conversation with their children and advised students to recognize the underlying reasons behind drug usage. People of all ages were touched by his presentation and gained greater exposure to the topic of mental wellness, an initiative that is being strongly promoted by Watchung Hills, the Municipal Alliance, and the world as a whole. Additional panels and presentations will be held as the year progresses, covering a range of wellness-related topics.
Continuing with the Wellness Initiative, Watchung Hills held its first “Flex Day” on January 23rd, a day in which each period was shortened to allow a 25-minute “flex period” in between periods 2 and 3. During the flex period, students had the opportunity to study, relax, or receive extra help from teachers. Many appreciated the chance to govern a portion of their schedule themselves and the chance to regroup before continuing with the rush of each school day. This first Flex Day was a trial for greater implementation in the future, and students may see an alternate scheduling day more often in coming years.
The All School Council and Wellness Committee is providing students with the opportunity to attend free yoga classes taught by community member, Marci Shapiro, every Wednesday to further progress overall wellness in the school. Yoga is a perfect and tranquil way to align the mind with the body, and students are encouraged to register for classes.
Other events included the English department’s annual Coffeehouse Cabaret, during which students presented poetry, music, acting, dance, and comedy to an audience being served light refreshments, simulating a coffeehouse environment. On January 18th, Skylr the Hypnotist returned to Watchung Hills’ PAC stage as he presented the ever-thrilling act of hypnotism that caused students to act like chickens, react hilariously to his cues, and bring roaring laughter to the audience. That same week the Watchung Hills Computer Science Club hosted its first Hills Hacks event, a 6-hour hackathon with the theme “Coding the Classroom,” during which students from grades 7-12 received the opportunity to attend beginner coding workshops and work on technological innovations with peers. The event was widely successful and will hopefully continue to take place in future years, as computer science has become a crucial area in today’s world.
In sports news, Warrior Wrestling has had a fantastic season so far, winning the Somerset County title by 82.5 points. Seniors Rob Saum, Justin Hayward, and Danny Miller reached 100 wins this season and the team is working towards even greater victories in the upcoming weeks.
The beginning of 2018 has been a packed month for Warriors, filled with presentations, performances, events, and victories. With such a positive start, the community looks forward to yet another successful year and even more accomplishments.