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Promoting a healthy life and school balance for students with Challenge Success

This school year, FCUSD partnered with Challenge Success to take a look at ways we can improve our policies and procedures to better support our high school students to improve their academic experience, success and well-being.
 
Challenge Success training Stanford University developed Challenge Success in response to the increasing number of students who were lacking the emotional skills and resiliency needed to be successful in school. According to their vision statement "Challenge Success recognizes that our current fast-paced, high-pressure culture works against much of what we know about healthy child development and effective education. The overemphasis on grades, test scores, and rote answers has stressed out some kids and marginalized many more. We all want our kids to do well in school and to master certain skills and concepts, but our largely singular focus on academic achievement has resulted in a lack of attention to other components of a successful life-the ability to be independent, adaptable, ethical, and engaged critical thinkers."
 
Folsom High School kicked off the school year with a parent information night led by Challenge Success and formed a stakeholder committee made up of students, parents and teachers to examine trends and recommend improvements to mitigate the destructive stresses so many students were facing.  
 
"We had a high amount of students experiencing stress and anxiety, lack of adequate sleep and fierce peer and academic pressure. We are highly committed to making improvements from what we are learning from Challenge Success" said Assistant Principal Eric Eklund. During the year, staff has met to devise ways to better balance project assignments and test schedules, students created a Time Budget Planner and the school and families are engaging in strong two-way communication on ways to create better school/life balance for students during and after school hours.
 
Vista del Lago introduced Challenge Success to families in January with training for teachers and counselors. Principal Lori Emmington shared that a workshop for parents taught strategies on "how to reduce academic stress without reducing academic achievement.  Parents also learned how lack of sleep and too much screen time are increasing depression and anxiety among today's youth." In a letter to parents Emmington said "our goal is to help our students be happy, healthy, creative and resilient young adults. Over the next year, we will develop a team of staff and students who will work to spread the word and change the 'pressure-cooker' culture at Vista."  
 
Staff and teams at both Folsom High and Vista del Lago are sharing best practices with each other and nearby Oak Ridge High School who has also partnered with Challenge Success. Next year will see the continuation of this program and development of further strategies to support the well-being and academic success of our students.