Challenge Day aims to teach students how to deal with their emotions

Gabriella Monico

On Nov. 21, MVHS was quieter than usual. The bells that signify the beginning and end of each class period were conspicuously absent, forcing many students to stare at the clock and some classes to run overtime. Students often ran into class late, and some wandered the empty halls when teachers let them out too early.

The cause of the silence? The eleventh biannual Challenge Day.

This year and the year before, Challenge Day quickly filled up and many hopeful applicants were put on the waiting list. The popularity of Challenge Day has skyrocketed since it was introduced at MVHS as many attendees continue to spread the word about it.

MVHS adopted Challenge Day six years ago specifically because its predecessor, Camp AnyTown, was not accessible to a large portion of the student body. It cost over $300 to attend and required students to miss many days of school while they camped in the Santa Cruz Mountains, getting to know each other in a secluded environment.

Challenge Day has the same goals as Camp Anytown: fostering empathy and providing students with a healthy way of dealing with their emotions. Yet unlike Camp Anytown it is accessible to the entire student body.

Students play games and icebreakers, listen to music and talk in groups. According to Student Advocate Richard Prinz, every moment of Challenge Day is filled with activities.

“Even when we’re eating, we’re talking to someone,” Prinz said.

These activities are supposed to make students feel comfortable talking to each other. They are designed to help students see that every single one of them have problems and that they are in a safe environment to share them.

Prinz is excited about Challenge Day’s impact on the MVHS environment. He hopes people will build empathy for their fellow classmates.

Senior Tanya Rios believes Challenge Day is a worthwhile way to spend a Thursday. She went once before and came back this time as a teen leader.

“I thought being a leader is about supporting those that are there for the first time, so I felt like I had the duty to really make people happy,” Rios said. “I was there to get help and I wanted this time to help others even though the people who came there for the first time helped me as well.”

Teen leaders are charged with facilitating the activities and putting the first-timers at ease. Their role is to make the environment comfortable enough so that everyone is willing to share their problems and feelings.

“It surprised me how much other people have been through and in a lot of the activities people were just so open about it,” junior Todd Perkins, a first-time attendee, said.

Challenge Day is dedicated to getting students away from the academic rigor of MVHS for a day so that they can focus on their emotional well-being as well as see what they have in common with their peers.

“I’ve had a student come back and tell me: ‘I didn’t know popular people had problems too,’” Prinz said.