Throughout my time in high school, I had noticed that I was not the only student who felt like they did not have an area in school they could call a safe space, that they were allowed access to at any time during the school year. Very quickly, my space became the art wing, specifically the AP art room. I’ve always had the option to go into the room at any time, for as long as I needed, to just talk with my teacher, edit photos/paint when I needed to calm down, or to find ease when I felt stressed or unfocused at school.

Here’s the catch: I can only go during free blocks, lunch, or in the morning before classes. The problem seems to root from the fact that most teachers at my school would not write passes to another room, with or without an explanation from the student. The mindset that exists is “class is more important”, but I’ve found that most students need to feel at ease and comfortable in order to focus and learn. Students are not robots and that means it can be difficult to go from class to class and not feel negative emotions like stress, boredom, or discomfort. It’s not healthy to ignore those feelings and put our grades first, and that is exactly what I see in so many of my fellow classmates. I want to challenge that mindset of putting school before one’s well-being, and try to educate others on just how important emotional health is.

At home, you can take as many breaks as you need to accomplish their work, but in school that can feel impossible. Over time, I came up with the idea of having a “peace of mind” room in schools, where students are allowed to go whenever they need to and color, read, listen to music, work on an important assignment that’s stressing them or to take some time to catch their breath. I think it’s really important to involve teachers AND students in discussing what the room entails, its purpose, and the parameters. I suggest students have at least 15-25 minutes to destress, calm down, or just relax. If students have a little time for themselves while in school, I believe students would be more productive, perform better academically, and overall have an improved view of school It could even lead to students being more excited and actually looking forward to school rather than feeling overwhelmed and afraid at the simple thought it.

I feel as though each room should be made to fit the needs of every school that adopts the idea. Some schools may even create spaces like this for teachers, they’re not robots either! I believe having a designated safe space like a “peace of mind” room that is accessible to any student at any time of the school day would truly benefit students and positively impact schools. This could open the door for teachers to understand students better and have better relationships. Over time it could make school a happier place for all.

Sarah Bouffard is from North Haven, Connecticut and is a junior at NHHS. She loves photography, writing, and music – almost any form of art where she can express herself. She is a presenter for her school’s diversity team, a facilitator for her freshman gym classes, and a thrower for her track team nearly year round.