Over the past several years, students in Questa had to deal with stay-at-home orders, online learning, and ultimately returned to the classroom to find the world permanently altered by a global pandemic. It’s no wonder, then, that students have been experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety. Those feelings of anxiety were deepened this past summer by violent events that shook their community.
Now that school is back in session, school counselors in Questa have seen an uptick in students requesting mental health resources and, in many cases, looking for a safe place to express their emotions. Students have sought out one counselor in particular at the high school, in whom they feel comfortable confiding — and she has wanted to create a space where students can feel welcome, work on their assignments independently, and gather themselves before returning to the classroom.
The space, though, did not have many amenities to help students cope. She reached out to Maria Gonzalez at the LOR Foundation over the summer and explained her vision. With a grant from LOR, the Questa Independent School District was able to purchase a variety of items to transform this into a student-success space. Those items included floor lamps, bean bag chairs, a star projector, art supplies, adult coloring books, weighted blankets, sensory toys, and more.
“Kids in our community have been through so much recently,” Gonzalez says. “LOR listened to the counselors at the schools, and we knew this type of solution could help address issues of mental health among high-schoolers in Questa.”
Supporting the health and safety of students is something Gonzalez cares deeply about, and she’s eager to hear more ideas from Questa residents about how LOR could help improve the quality of life for all of the community’s residents. If you have an idea you’d like to share with Maria, she is hosting open houses (with coffee!) at her office (62 Highway 38) from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. on October 3, 10, 17, and 24. She would love for you to stop by and share an idea. You can also reach out to her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (575) 665-2001.