Library Home to New Union

Space to transform into a resource hub for students

After Brenda Eubank retired from being the school’s librarian last school year, the library faced uncertainty as to what was to come next. The position was taken over by English teacher Rachel Miller, and since then the library has began a new chapter of service for the school.

The library is home to hundreds of reading materials, all of which are open for any student to check out. The library also houses other resources, such as social worker Ashley Manship’s office, study spaces, and the home of the Essentials Project.

Starting this school year, the library is now the home of a student union.

The union was previously initiated by Ginny Nelson, who was a part of the guidance office. This union was created to provide students with information regarding post-high school plans and how to navigate the latter part of high school.

The goal is to implement resources that students can utilize and benefit from. One resource for students, with a partnership from the AVID program, are studying skills. The goal would be to work with Tammy Noble’s AVID class to help students with study tables and tutorials on studying skills.

“Say, if there is a big chemistry test at the end of the week, students can meet [at the union] on Tuesday and Thursday after school to get together and students can collaborate and use the skills they have learned from AVID lessons to help them study,” said Principal Dr. Sherry Wise.

Another goal of the student union is to show students what their options are both in school and after graduation. For in-school options, students can go to the union to inquire about what classes and programs may be available, such as the CDL course offered by the co-op. For plans after graduation, the union can be very beneficial for students.

If students are interested in learning more about a specific school, the union can arrange for students representatives for an information session.

It can also provide the students with information they may need to apply for colleges, as well as options in the workforce or military.

“I want to make it something that, no matter what your plan is after high school, there’s going to be something there for you that you can come and work with [the union] on,” said Wise.

At the beginning of the semester, Nelson resigned as the union’s coordinator. Currently, a new coordinator has not been hired, but there are applicants being reviewed.

Story by Michael Hannon

Now Hiring: Substitutes Needed in the Classroom

When Cooperation Secretary Lisa Muth started working for the Paoli School Corporation in 2012, there were 76 substitute teachers hired to work at the school. The next year, 13 more, but since then there has been a steady decrease in the number of substitutes available.

Currently, there are only 30 substitute teachers working in the corporation.

“That may sound like a lot,” said Muth, “but they are shared by both buildings. Also, some of them are college students and are only available on their breaks.”

Muth suspects many reasons as to why there has been a diminishing number available in recent years. Though they receive $75 a day for working at the school, the position comes with an unpredictable work schedule and a lack of insurance or “leave day” benefits.

“I am sure there are people that don’t want to come into a school right now,” said Muth. “Some people [also] don’t like not knowing when they might be called into work. They usually call them early the same day they need them.”

Another possibility is the emergence and ongoing conflicts that have come with the COVID-19 pandemic. The school year following the initial quarantine of students and staff experienced resulted in 14 substitute teachers not returning. The next, 10 more were lost.

Regardless of the worsening situation, Muth maintains hope more applications will come in.

“We are currently advertising on the radio for job openings at the school and have them posted on our website,” said Muth.

Applications to become a substitute teacher are available on the school’s website under the Staff and Employment section. Under that there is one for Jobs and Applications and, finally, a page specifically for substitute teachers.

Interested applicants must have gone through a background check and have a current Substitute Teacher License through the State of Indiana.

Story by Joz Kempf

High Hopes for Year Ahead

A new year is a time to start fresh, a time to reflect on oneself and decide what things in one’s life need to be changed. While there is room for improvement across most if not all aspects of one’s life, it is important to narrow down the scope when setting personal goals. Doing so is necessary
in order to avoid getting overwhelmed and, as a result, discouraged by broad, unreasonable objectives.

We asked our staff what areas they need to work on and the majority of their answers were related, indicating many could benefit from aiming for similar progress.

Some students said they have trouble with placing themselves in others’ shoes and thus need to embrace empathy. They acknowledged that they need to be mindful of what those around them are going through and realize that everyone has their own problems at any given time.

Likewise, staff members said they could benefit from extending empathy towards themselves. Teenagers are no strangers to pressure, especially that which they put upon themselves in terms of school, sports and jobs. Many forget to be kind to themselves and as a result develop a negative self-image. These students would like to practice more self-love and accept that they are only human and cannot be perfect.

Self-compassion was also brought up by students who want to begin putting themselves first. Some said they need to stop allowing themselves to be walked over by others, as well as needing to stop spreading themselves too thin by helping others before themselves – following the principle of putting on one’s own oxygen mask before assisting others with theirs.

Several staff members responded by saying they need to improve their mental and physical health.

Their ideas for doing so involve self-care, for their minds with rest and awareness and for their bodies with a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise routine.

Students want to change their attitudes as well, in particular, their views on life to more optimistic ones. They would like to start looking at every day from a more positive perspective than they typically do in order to be able to appreciate each day they have.

Additionally, our staff spoke of wanting to become carefree. Many students struggle with nerves and over-thinking. They said they need to quit worrying about petty things and begin to give their attention to the things that actually matter.

Our staff also mentioned wanting to change their personalities to become more outgoing and extroverted people who are not afraid to put themselves out there. The idea of such self improvement is often a subject around this time of year. Everyone is setting their new year’s
resolutions and hoping to make this year better than the last. When asked what their resolutions were, our staff’s responses fell under the overarching theme of consistency.

Students want to be consistent with their good habits in the new year, habits such as volunteering, studying and working out. Some students responded with wanting to be motivated and determined as well – things that allow consistency to prosper.

Several of our staff members admit to losing their motivation halfway through activities which results in them abandoning them. Students want to become self-driven, to be strong in their initiative so as not to count on others for finding success.

Others would like to pick up new practices like journaling to get their feelings down on paper and better understand their thoughts. Reading is another thing members want to do more of in the new year. They would like for it to become a source of enjoyment and escapism, something that would allow them to put their phones down and feed their brains.

Staff members want to alter their frame of mind. Instead of longing after the lives of others, students wanted to start romanticizing their own lives – appreciating the beauty of the little things around them. While it is important to work towards self-improvement, it is vital to remember that working on oneself should not be determined by the date. It can be a journey that begins anytime during the course of the year and something that one takes breaks from now and again. A lot of pressure is put on becoming the best version of oneself with the beginning of each new year and that stress can deter people from making any progress at all.

This issue can be aided by setting goals that are both plausible and achievable. It is easy to think big when it comes to goals, and while it may be true that one can do whatever they set their mind to, it is also true that one can get themselves in over their heads.

Planning out a goal into a series of smaller goals can be helpful. When doing this, one is able to celebrate the minor successes that contribute to reaching the overall goal. Students mentioned how this method allows them to see their progress and prompts them to keep working towards what they want to accomplish.

Another way our staff members stay on track to achieve their goals is by finding the right motivation. They find it to help significantly when they ask themselves why they are setting a goal and what the goal will do for them when they reach it – therefore knowing the significance of seeing it through.

Some spoke about how they nudge themselves to keep working towards their goals by setting reminders on their phones and writing notes for themselves in order to remember what they want to achieve.

A good support system can push one to improve themselves also. Our staff thinks it’s a good idea to inform those around them, their family and friends, of their goals. That way, they can be a source of encouragement and maybe even offer a little help.

Measuring one’s success is a critical part of reaping the benefits of one’s goals. This can be done in several different ways.

Our staff members consider themselves successful by their level of personal satisfaction. Even if they have not completed their goals entirely, students say that if they feel good about their progress, they already consider themselves successful to some extent.

Furthermore, one can measure their success in self-improvement and goal-achievement in terms of where they are. One can look at where they were previously and compare it to where they are currently and where they would like to be in the future. Students say they notice how far they have come and how much they have grown when reflecting on their past selves.

While the start of a new year presents a good opportunity to start working on oneself, it can also be a root of stress. It does not have to be, with specific goal setting and a relaxed approach self-improvement taking the pressure off of making progress.

Staff Editorial

New Club Aims To Support Mental Health

The Self Care Club met for the first time on Friday, December 10. This was just the beginning of the program, with big plans for its future already in the works. Media Advisor Heather Nichols decided to sponsor the club here at PHS with the help of fellow staff members and resilience coach Kara Schmidt.

Teachers have witnessed their students’ emotional distress these past two years and realized something needed to be done about it.

Teachers Laurie Jo Andry, Carol Fullington, Melissa Higgins, Crystal Shellenberger, Maria Wishart along with Nichols have taken part in yoga classes led by Schmidt to try and relieve some of their own stress. These classes have been held on Thursdays in the PHS choir room since late September and have proven to be positive experiences for teachers. This success prompted them to think bigger.

“We all talked about it and were like the kids need this. We have so many kids in this building who don’t process their emotions. They don’t know how to handle things. They’re crying at random things that don’t seem like things they should be crying about,” said Nichols.

While Nichols believes it is healthy for everyone to have a good cry every now and then, what she sees from students at school seems to be troubling. The Self Care Club is meant to be a solution to this issue. The goal is to give students the mental and physical tools they need to get through difficult situations. These tools consist of breathing techniques, tension-releasing stretches and knowledge. Schmidt will teach students about their bodies’ nervous systems and how to regulate them in order to calm down. The main goal of the club is to help students understand the power they hold in their reactions to stressful situations and hardships.

“The nervous system and brain are very changeable, especially for young people. Having this information about their mental health, and practicing ways to strengthen their resilience regularly, can actually reshape and strengthen the brain and nervous system in a positive way that will help them be able to handle stresses more effectively for the rest of their lives,” said Schmidt.

Schmidt wants this club to be a source of community, safety, and empowerment for students. The meetings will be a place where students can feel comfortable enough to be themselves and have a
good time, a place where they can take a break from the stress of school and life in general. She
would like to use the opportunity to guide students into becoming more courageous, compassionate, self-aware people who are prepared for difficult situations.

While the Self Care Club is new to PHS, it is not an entirely new concept. Schmidt has worked with students at Orleans Junior Senior High School as well as students at Throop Elementary. There, Schmidt incorporates certain staples into each session. These staples include stress-level and emotional observation check-ins as well as a variety of practices. Schmidt does a different practice during each meeting, alternating between Focused Attention Practice, Relaxation Practice,
Self-Compassion Practice and Gratitude Practice. Such elements will likely be integrated into the Self Care Club.

With all of the work she does regarding mental and emotional health, it is no surprise that helping youth and adults alike with their struggles is something very personal to Schmidt.

“I do this because when I was a teenager, I didn’t know how to support my mental health. This led to me feeling pretty bad about myself all through high school and into college. I thought that there
was something wrong with me. And I acted out and made some really poor choices. I feel lucky to have gotten through those tough years without more harm to myself or others,” said Schmidt.

She has created spaces of comfort and neutrality because she feels as though they would have been helpful to her young self who had similar problems. Schmidt credits her success in finding healthier ways to deal with stress, anxiety and depression to yoga, breathing exercises and mindfulness tools she learned over the years. Though she admits she still has difficulty with her mental health on occasion, Schmidt feels her knowledge has helped her to better cope with it. She is passionate about sharing what she has learned in order to help others through their own adversities.

“We know that if one’s nervous system is in a high stress state, that it is really hard for the brain to learn as effectively as it could. Memorizing information, taking tests and making good decisions are more challenging for those dealing with chronic overwhelm. My hope is that schools like Paoli and Orleans choose to make nervous system education and these kinds of tools for mental health a high priority,” said Schmidt.

The club meets during homeroom on Fridays. Use Google Classroom code extovt4 to join. The club meets during homeroom on Fridays.

Story by Masden Embry

Hannon Named Lilly Scholar

On December 10, Orange County’s Lilly Endowment Scholarship was awarded to senior Michael Hannon. This scholarship is a full ride to any college in Indiana and will help cover room and board and other required fees for four years.

“I am beyond thrilled to have such an amazing opportunity going into college. It will definitely be a huge help and I’m so thankful for everyone who has helped me,” said Hannon.