My, how things have changed.

During my high school years, we had to handle stressful moments on the spot. If the incident was more than what the teacher wanted to handle, I remember a teacher or two tactfully telling the person in need to go to the office.

But the office wasn’t a change of pace as it was more desks, chairs, telephones ringing and the revolving door of people.

We still survived.

But would we have been better if we had what Clarinda High has?

The school opened a student break room this year. The purpose of the room was explained last month by high school counselor Shannon Alemelien to the school board. She supervises a room where a student can use some self-coping skills to prevent the matter for becoming larger and more complex.

Maybe it was something that happened at home last night or before the trip to school. Maybe it was a relationship that suddenly went bad. Maybe something unsettling was seen on one of those social-media pages. All of that can mess up a moment at school.

Schools from Buffalo, New York, to Maize, Kansas, and Philadelphia all have break rooms.

Kids had stress 30 years ago. Stress isn’t new. How Clarinda school officials want to address it, is.

The room, adjacent to Alemelien’s office, was intentionally designed to create a calming effect with colors, lighting, furniture and items to distract the mind from puzzles, coloring books and access to music.

It’s far more than what legendary Iowa football coach Hayden Fry did to the visitor’s locker room at Kinnick Stadium (it’s painted pink, a color that is supposed to reduce a person’s sense of aggression).

Kids have used the break room and stay an average of about 10 minutes.

“It’s a different stress,” said Val Stickler, who has The Meditation Room in Clarinda. I met Val a couple of years ago. Her room is similar to what’s in the high school, but her sessions are typically more for adults.

“Teens have stress from peers, academics, athletics and finding their identity,” she said comparing it to adults’ mortgage payments, job productivity and making sure the furnace will last another winter.

“And stress can come from the family,” she said. “Not every family has working teens or a car for each kid.”

Stickler encourages families to create more, consistent time together which may influence the kids to understand their parents are there for them and create a comfortable time to talk about life.

“We have to start talking to kids,” she said. “We assume they will be fine. Kids are different because families are different because society is different.”

Clarinda school officials are researching a break room for the middle school.


I will always defend putting in as many pictures as possible from Clarinda High’s theater program.

We did that this week in the print edition as the fall production was last weekend. We dedicate pages to the school’s sports teams which play year round, and deserve the coverage too.

But the school’s band and theater kids don’t have the same schedule.

Friday’s performance of “Clue” was a sell out of the auditorium. If you listened to others in the audience, you probably heard references to seeing the movie when it came out in 1985. Good comedy, like the play was, is hard to beat.

And I’m sure the board game is in a lot of Clarinda closets. It’s in mine.

Great job Clarinda!

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