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Inside Sonoma Valley High School’s Dragon Haven

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In need of a relaxing, therapeutic setting? The Dragon Haven at Sonoma Valley High is a perfect spot on campus for students to unwind and care for their mental health.

Junior Twyla Summers says that the Dragon Haven adds a better sense of community and support to the SVHS campus.

“It’s a message to the student body that there is a support system and a safe escape in times of mental stress or instability,” she said. “The Dragon Haven is the perfect place to go to if you just need to be alone in your own thoughts, or if you need someone to talk to about an issue.”

The Dragon Haven was started in the beginning of 2018 as a collaboration by former principal Kathleen Hawing, school counselors, volunteer parents and student senior projects.

Counselor Kalia Gurnee said, “(The counselors) and I have been waiting for a space for students to eat lunch if they didn’t have a space, hang out with friends, or a space for them to check in with counselors if they don’t want to make a formal appointment.”

There is a counselor in the room every lunch, so students can enjoy a quiet and comfortable setting, and discuss issues if needed. The room is also used for PLUS (Peer Leaders Uniting Students) forums, club meetings, group counseling and more. Recently, freshman algebra teacher Jonathan Rehberg started teaching students Tai Chi on Mondays at lunch.

Gurnee said that she recently used the room for Mental Health Awareness week.

“I invited students to do all the prep for Mental Health Week and I used the space as a space to collaborate,” she said. “I took advantage of the room when I was undergoing a time of grief, and it was extremely helpful that there was a space on campus to simply do art or talk with a counselor. I felt greatly supported by the school and spent hours utilizing the various art supplies the room provided.”

The Dragon Haven has helped students alleviate some of the stress they are facing by simply having a safe place on campus to go in times of need. It adds to a sense of community, and assures students that staff and administration care about our mental health.

Ava Rognlien is a senior at Sonoma Valley High School.

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