Juniors creates anti-stress club CASA


Mi CASA es su CASA: CASA members stand together. Junior Bryce Lee started the club to help students have a place to deal with stress together.

By Sophia Pan, Staff Reporter

Student stress has been on the rise, with seven of every ten American teenagers viewing anxiety and depression as a major problem, according to a report by the nonpartisan American fact tank Pew Research Center last month. Junior Bryce Lee hopes to create CASA, the Conestoga Anti-Stress Association, to address this issue.

Lee said that after midterms, he felt stressed, overwhelmed and disappointed with his grades, and realized that other students felt similar levels of overwhelming daily stress from taking classes with a lot of work.

“I thought that starting a club where we’re teaching and helping people to cope with stress management would be better for Conestoga and for our students,” Lee said. “Casa in Spanish means ‘house’ and we want to make (the club) in a sense where when people come to club, they feel safe and they feel comfortable like they are in their own house.”

According to the Pew Research Center’s study, academics are students’ main stressor. Pew found that 61 percent of teens say they feel a lot of pressure to maintain good grades while 29 percent feel pressure to look good and 28 percent feel pressure to fit in socially. Teens planning to attend a four-year college after graduating feel more pressure than their peers to get good grades.

At meetings, the club will hold discussions, do stress-relieving activities such as coloring and meditation, and teach students to manage their stress. Club leaders plan to have two meetings with the same agenda every week, held once on Tuesday afternoon and once on Thursday morning so members can choose a time that best fits their schedules. Lee said this creates “a sense of continuity where they can continue to grow in their anti-stress,” particularly during stressful times such as midterms, finals, AP exams and tryouts.

“It’ll provide a safe space where people can come together and talk about their anxiety,” said junior and club vice president Dawson Keyes. “One of the hardest things to do with stress is just to talk about and get it out there, so once it’s out there, that’s the most important piece to relieving it, and so just being able to talk with like-minded people who may even share the same anxiety will reduce stress for Conestoga.”

CASA, sponsored by Spanish teacher Kelly Smart, will officially start this month. The club’s members consist mostly of juniors but Keyes emphasizes the club’s acceptance of “absolutely everyone.”

Lee wants the club to continue even after he and vice presidents Dawson Keyes and Cristina Green graduate in 2020. He hopes that as students learn to fight stress and deal with overwhelming emotions, Conestoga’s atmosphere will become less “cutthroat” and “anxious.”

“If we can teach them how to handle stress themselves, then in their own lives when it comes up, they’re able to take what they learned in the club and apply it in that moment,” Lee said.