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LOHS students reach out to 8th grade



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February 19, 2014 - By Ana Cordera

Review Special Writer

Recently, the Lake Orion High School group, Students Offering Support, expanded its program to the middle schools.

SOS is a club that raises awareness of teen crises and combats the stigmas surrounding mental health issues. The new four-week initiative is geared towards eighth graders. Part of the reason is to begin helping them transition into high school. Another reason is because some members thought it was important to address issues like mental health and depression to a younger audience

"The SOS kids basically stated that some of these issues like depression, mental illness and stress really start in middle school," Michele Novak, the SOS program coordinator and Lake Orion High School counselor, said.

A few weeks ago, the program began on a Wednesday morning at Oakview Middle School. The initiative started with an assembly about what the Students Offering Support group was. After the assembly, all students went to their STAR classes and while there, SOS members led a discussion to comment on the assembly.

"It was a fun experience, definitely different than high school because younger kids are easier to get to participate," SOS member, Jake Rapanotti, said.

Last week, the program launched at Scripps Middle School. While this was taking place, SOS members continued to teach at Oakview, with a lesson plan about stress. Although the SOS leaders had previously taught this lesson at the high school, it had to be tweaked to make it more appropriate for eighth graders.

"All the stuff for the middle schools is a little different," Jake Thorne, a SOS member, said. "(It's a) little less heavy on suicide and death and more just about how to help other people out if they're stressed out or who to talk to if someone's not feeling the best."

Perhaps the lesson plans are different, but the message is the same. Novak said the feedback from the middle school teachers has been good. She said the STAR teachers at Oakview even called the sessions phenomenal and were impressed by the SOS members. As for the eighth graders, they thought the sessions were informative and appeared to be excited for the future.

"They got really excited to go to the high school just because of us being there," Thorne said after talking to them.

This week, the SOS students will be at Oakview and Scripps again with new lessons. As for Waldon Middle School, SOS will launch the program there on March 12. After wrapping up with the other middle schools, Novak said SOS hopes to have one more lesson at the high school about stress before the year ends.

So, with SOS reaching out to high school students and now eighth graders, is there a chance for the group to one day spread its lessons to the entire community?

"I definitely think that's a good possibility," Novak said.

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