Loomis Meets Pandemic With Heavy Investments in Healthy Living

Helen Shen '23, Contributor

The Loomis Chaffee School is offering a new Healthy Living program this year, developing and improving students’ health, both mentally and physically, as well as enhancing social connections with COVID-19 safety protocols.

Ms. Stephanie Bissett, assistant athletic director and coordinator of the healthy living program, described the purpose behind the Island’s innovative method. “Originally, the program was established to serve a few different purposes, which are one, to develop, support and improve healthy lifestyles; two, to provide students with activities during their down time on campus; and three, to enhance the social and community involvement and experience of our students,” Ms. Bisset said.

The curriculum of the Healthy Living program was designed by a selected group of faculty and staff with involvement and expertise in areas outside of the school’s typical academic curriculum.

“Faculty members [came up with] courses that they were passionate about and that would engage students by creating an enriching environment. We wanted students to find connections and learn something new as well,” Bisset added.
The program’s course is formatted as a five-week term course, and is available to all ninth and tenth grade students. Because students do not receive grades in the Healthy Living classes, they are encouraged to discover newfound passions, enabling them to truly enjoy classes without the stress of marked assessments.
During Fall Term one, 16 on-campus and six online options were offered, and one or two were cancelled.
Courses from the program focused on mental health, such as “Stress Management & Relaxation Techniques” with Julie Field, Director of Counseling Department, to “Mindfulness & Meditation” with Petagay Rowe, English faculty, to physical health, “Midday Movement” with Adrian Stewart, Head of Physical Therapy, and “Daytime Swimming” with Don MacGillivray, Head of the Physical Education Department.
Or, if students were looking to develop a new skill, they could try out hands-on courses like fishing with Mr. Donnie McKillop, Associate Athletics Director, discussing all about Marvel with Dean of Students Mr. Mike Donegan, and gardening and sustainability with Ms. Gratia Lee, Director of Sustainable Agriculture.
Speaking from a faculty point of view, Ms. Bissett believes the pandemic has led to a lot of changes, one being the way in which teachers connect to students who aren’t in the same dorm or classes with them. Under usual circumstances, those relationships would be formed organically during down time in the dining hall or on the quad.
The purpose of the Healthy Living Program has multiple impactful benefits. Thus, persevering the program in the school schedule, even after 2020, will be considered by the academic office.

Already, adjustments have been made from Fall Term I to Fall Term II, improving the courses’ times to not conflict with study halls and half courses and more potential changes could come in order to soon recognize the Healthy Living program as an integral part of the Loomis Chaffee curriculum.