This August, a freshly decorated, relaxing space will welcome students back to Calhoun County Middle-High School.
Calhoun County Prosecutor Shannon Johnson and her Parkersburg Area Community Foundation intern, Aleah Dye, teamed up with Calhoun's Energy Express to create a "Calming Corner" for students. Dye designed the space and the 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 McCumbers, and Miranda Farmer. Makayla Smith acts as the Energy Express Community Coordinator.
A Calming Corner serves as a quiet area equipped with soft furnishings, soothing materials, and stress-reducing activities to help a student de-escalate or calm down when affected by a recent trauma. The CCMHS Calming Corner will be used for various purposes, but with a special focus on students who have been the subject of a Handle With Care notification.
Johnson explains, "For several years our county has participated in the statewide initiative known as 'Handle With Care.' When law enforcement 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."
Calhoun County's Handle With Care initiative has proven to be highly effective in ensuring the academic success of traumatized children. Students will greatly benefit from having a dedicated space to serve their needs.
Principal Anita Stephenson says of the project: "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 CCHMS, are so thankful to Prosecuting Attorney Shannon Johnson, her intern, and the AmeriCorps and Energy Express volunteers 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. School Counselor Amy Cottrell expressed her enthusiasm over the new space: "We are so grateful and excited for the remodel of this room. This provides students with a quiet, calming space they can utilize when needed."
Johnson utilized funds seized by law enforcement and her office under the West Virginia Contraband Forfeiture Act due to drug related activity in the county.