Oak Knoll School Celebrates Mental Health Week

It was planned well before the spread of COVID-19, but now, more important than ever. From April 21-24, 2020, the Oak Knoll School community celebrated Mental Health Awareness Week in a virtual, campus-wide effort to support various aspects of well-being.

Each day this week, members of the Oak Knoll Mental Health Club shared campus-wide videos and online resources with the community highlighting a different area of mental health.

“Mental health is a frequent topic of conversation at the faculty and administrative level, particularly with regard to how we can design supportive structures (curriculum design, physical space, etc.) for our students and faculty,” said Erin Traynor, moderator of Oak Knoll’s Mental Health Club and Upper School history teacher.

Traynor said that the pandemic has presented the entire Oak Knoll community — students, families, faculty, and staff — with extraordinary circumstances.

“Virtually every aspect of our life changed almost overnight and without our consent,” said Traynor. “This is why it’s absolutely essential to prioritize our mental health.”

  • Tuesday, April 21, 2020: Kylie Hampton ’20, a member of the OKS field hockey team, provided information about how to engage in socially distant and responsible physical exercise for those feeling especially housebound by the stay-at-home orders. In addition, Dr. Melissa Maskery, Assistant Athletic Director and Athletic Trainer also provided a yoga video.
  • Wednesday, April 22, 2020: Mary Margaret Schroeder ’20 and Tietjen Spoor ’20 provided prayers and examples of how the community stays close to God every day, especially now during this challenging time.
  • Thursday, April 23, 2020: Grace D’Alessandro ’22 created a school playlist, which included uplifting songs while her parent Colleen D’Alessandro (an art therapist in training) provided a video to the OKS community explaining what art therapy is. She also offered at home art therapy suggestions for engagement at home. She also circulated lists of uplifting art projects to lift the spirits of the Oak Knoll community.
  • Colleen D'Alessandro- Art Therapy from Catherine D'Alessandro on Vimeo.

  • Friday, April 24, 2020: Oak Knoll also highlighted how the community is maintaining ties with one another and supporting those out on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Oak Knoll community sported their school spirit gear while Catherine Merritt ’21 shared a video on how to make face masks for first responders and encouraged others to assist her.

Catey D’Alessandro ’20, founder and president of Oak Knoll’s student Mental Health Club, said that recognizing mental health awareness is vital now especially because students are going to school at home.

“As a social person, seeing my classmates and teachers always brings me a lot of joy, so without physically seeing them, it is important that as a club, we connect the community in any way we can,” said D’Alessandro. “After receiving so many updates, pictures, and videos from the Oak Knoll community, I am reminded of the amazing, supportive community that I am a part of.”

students inducted virtually into the foreign language honor society at oak knoll