A freshly decorated, re-laxing space will welcome students back to Calhoun Middle/High School in August.
Calhoun County prose-cutor Shannon Johnson and Parkersburg Area Community Foundation intern Aleah Dye have teamed up with Energy Express to create a “Calming Corner” for students.
Dye designed the space and Energy Express mentors and community coordinator painted and decorated the room as part of their AmeriCorps volunteer hours.
Mentors are Autumn Jones, Adrianne Shimer, Brandi Whited, Taylor Nicholas, Caroline Mc-Cumbers and Miranda Farmer. Makayla Smith is the Energy Express community coordinator.
Calming Corner will serve as a quiet area that is equipped with soft fur-nishings, soothing ma-terials, and stress-reducing activities to help a student deescalate or calm down when affected by a recent trauma.
The CM/HS Calming Corner will be used for various purposes, but with a focus on students who have been the subject of a “Handle With Care” notification.
Johnson said, “For several years our county has participated in the statewide initiative known as ‘Handle With Care.’
“When law enforce-ment officers encounter a child who may have experienced trauma, for any reason, the officers send a notice to the school to handle the child with care. No details are given; just a heads up to the school that the child may need a little extra love, care, and attention.”
According to Johnson, the local Handle With Care initiative has proven to be effective in ensur-ing the academic success of traumatized children, and the students benefit from having a dedicated space to serve their needs.
Principal Anita Ste-phenson said, “Students who have experienced trauma sometimes need time to process what has happened. The Calming Corner allows them a quiet space to rest, think, and process what has happened.
“We, here at CH/MS, are so thankful to prose-cuting attorney Shannon Johnson, her intern, and the AmeriCorps and Energy Express volun-teers and staff, who created this space to help our students.”
“In moments of trauma, we all need comfort–especially adolescents. Rather than be sent to the principal’s office or the nurse’s station, Handle With Care students will now have a Calming Corner to call their own,” said Johnson.
School counselor Amy Cottrell expressed her enthusiasm over the new space: “We are so grate-ful and excited for the remodel of this room. This provides students with a quiet, calming space (that) they can utilize when needed.”
Johnson used funds seized by law enforce-ment and her office under the West Virginia Contraband Forfeiture Act due to drug-related activity in the county.