300 Westfield sophomores fill the room with loud applause for the introduction of this year’s Westfield Cares event. As Dr. Copeland, Principal, delivers the opening message, the students know that this day will be important. Westfield Cares was held at the Westfields Marriott this year, and the event focused on coping and giving students strategies for both themselves and for others. The day was filled with activities, a Thanksgiving lunch, and important lesson that students were able to take home with them.

      Westfield Cares was on November 25, and included a busy schedule. Once students were called down from their classes, they filed into the auditorium for a movie about anxiety among teens, Angst, and the coping strategies they use to help overcome stress. After the movie, the students took a short walk to the nearby Westfields Marriott for the day’s events.  When they entered the building, students sat down at their assigned tables and engaged in icebreakers.  

      The large number of attendees this year may have had something to do with the chosen topic, coping. Many students in our school experience stress, whether it be from school or everyday life. 

      Sonya Williams, director of student services, explained, “This year the planning committee for Westfield Cares felt that the students in the building were constantly struggling with how to deal with stress and anxiety. Some of that anxiety and stress was school related, like taking a test, and some were things like getting into college.” 

      As sophomores begin to think about their futures and plans for after high school, they can be easily overwhelmed and may not have all the coping strategies they need to deal with that stress. 

      There were multiple speakers at this year’s event, including Laura Beth Williams from the Josh Anderson Foundation, who shared various safe and healthy coping strategies with the students. These include relaxation methods, such as rolling the shoulders forwards and backwards, that can be utilized easily in a multitude of other situations. Other special guests talked about unhealthy ways that teens tend to cope with stress or grief in order to turn students towards healthier coping mechanisms. After the speakers shared their information with the students, all participants took a break for lunch.

     The Westfields Marriott kitchen staff cooked up Thanksgiving lunch for the students.The lunch featured a salad bar as well as traditional Thanksgiving food. After students filled their plates, right before walking back into the presentation room, people were greeted with three tables filled with individual pie slices, each with a round dollop of whipped cream. Many students’ favorite part of the day was the one hour lunch break. This was because of both the  food and the time that students got to spend with their friends. 

      After lunch, there was one main guest speaker, who appeared to be in his late 20s’,  that spoke about his coping experiences. Sam Anthony of Sam Anthony Speaks, a program that tells people about dealing with stress and coping through his story, shared his experience dealing with stress during high school. His story about his addiction to both drugs and alcohol around the age of fourteen or fifteen captivated the students. The vivid details about overdosing and landing in jail six times stunned the students at the event, and had a lasting impact on many. 

      After Anthony’s heartfelt reconciliation, a few students from Westfield Theatre performed skits about stress and dealing with it as a teen. Once the skits were performed, Grace Jenkins, 12, sang a song that related to this years topic. 

      When the presentations ended, one last round of applause was given as the students thanked the volunteers for their time and stories. Students walked back to school, arriving right before the final bell rang for the day.

      This year’s Westfield Cares event was important to many students within the sophomore class, touching on both personal coping strategies as well as ways to help others. 

      Teresa Morin, 10, reflected, “It’s very educational; it’s a good way to make new friends, the food is amazing, and we get to miss a day of school!”