St. Matthew’s & Valhalla Center celebrate wellness with music, mindfulness and creativity

Back-to-back days reflect careful planning by educators for a thoughtful break from routine

    On the lawn at Valhalla Center, a cool breeze blew and tranquil music wafted across the quad as students stretched to the sky at the prompting of Physical Therapist Phyllis Marto. Her yoga session, repeated the next day in the dining hall at St. Matthew’s School, was popular with students and staff alike.

Wellness Days at both locations offered an opportunity for a break from the routine to relax, be creative and enjoy activities that were a little different than those of the usual school day.

Students look forward to this, Teacher Lisa Culler said. They benefit from the sensory engagement with their surroundings in a unique way, not to mention the social interaction. The relaxing yoga sessions, certainly brightened moods and provided relaxation.

Inside at Valhalla, students painted decorative crafts and ate fresh “fruit-ka-bobs” that underscored the wellness theme.

At St. Matt’s, Teacher Patrice Cookes took part in the yoga, modeling the physical and mental benefits with an enthusiasm that was reflected by her students. Down the hall, Music Teacher Andrew Ruoti led a class in a series of singalongs to popular music from “One Love,” “Happy,” and “Lean On Me,” to “Can’t Stop the Feeling.”

Students played handheld percussion instruments—drumsticks, maracas, tambourines—to the beat as Mr. Ruoti played the guitar.

Other activities included art and music, mindfulness, rock painting and an end-of-day rock party.

Physical Education Teacher Sarah Demetriadis organized events at St. Matthew’s. She said the activities allowed students to truly reflect on their wellness journey and to refocus the great efforts by all of the staff throughout the school year to emphasize wellness.