NEWTON, NJ – It used to be a classroom, now, by popular vote, it is called the Green Room. It’s not just the paint color that sets the room apart. It is furnished more like a family room with couches, bean bag chairs, board games, puzzles and soft lighting.
The new room was established for many uses, all focused on student mental health and wellness.
“We’re very excited,” student and Peer Leader Emily Brothman said. She said they had heard about the space but had to stop by to see it in person. “For sure we will use it with our group,” Brothman said.
Student Ryan Sesera said he heard about the opening of the Green Room from teacher James Hofmann. “He said ‘Hey, you should go check it out,’ so I did,” Sesera said. “It looks very nice.”
Principal Jeff Waldron addressed the group of students, staff and invited guests.
“There is a growing need for mental health challenges to be addressed,” Waldron said. “Schools are not equipped to manage all of the needs of students who need wellness support, away from electronics and pressures of the world.”
Waldron said over the summer in 2018, he and Karen Maiser got a call from Thorlabs Jamie LaCouture asking for a meeting with CEO Alex Cable. “He asked ‘what do you need,’” Waldron said. “The generosity of Thorlabs helped us put this together.”
Superintendent Ken Greene said it was “terrific to see the work of so many come together in such a wonderful way.”
Greene said the schools engaged with parents, the community and local organizations to get support in meeting the needs of students, including providing mental health services such as the new facility will offer.
The guidance and child study team members said they will be using the room for small group and individual therapy meetings.
Greene and Waldron were joined by Athletic Director Ryan Hashaway, Guidance Counselor Lisa Casamassina and School Psychologist Matthew Nack.
Nack said, “It’s fantastic, long overdue. With so many loses, this is a comforting place. Students will feel very comfortable here.”
“I appreciate the fact that they are putting resources towards things students really need,” Yearbook Editor Danny Flores said. “And it has nice lighting.”
Maiser said, “These folks are less able to do what they have to do for a long time because of crises and crises are on the rise. They need to be able to do the work they were trained to do, so we need to branch out.”
She said the new space can also be used to bring in outside organizations to help support the students’ need.
“It’s a stressful world,” Maiser said.