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Getting Good Vibes at Marietta High School

Marietta High School
Marietta, GA

Marietta High School in Marietta, Georgia is a role model to other schools for supporting students beyond classroom instruction. After two years of research and collaboration, the Graduate Marietta Student Success Center (SSC) opened to provide comprehensive wellness services for students struggling to graduate and cope with the emotional challenges of high school. Students surveyed at the school indicated wellness and balance were key issues and over 30% listed stress and anxiety management as their primary barrier to learning and graduation. The students also requested assistance with stress release, after-school physical activity programs and nutrition education classes. 

As a result, Leigh Colburn, the director of the SSC and former principal, created a comprehensive wellness and academic program to address student needs. In the fall, the SSC offered yoga, fitness, nutrition and wellness classes to all students during and after school. Thanks to support from CSX Transportation, Marietta High was awarded a Game On grant to launch and support programs that meet student health and wellness needs through physical activity programs and nutrition education. 

The nutrition education component includes bi-weekly nutrition and cooking demonstration classes which take place in the Good Vibes Café, the high school’s hot spot, designed with eye-catching student artwork and nutrition education materials. The Culinary Arts Program provides the food and demonstrations as well as tastings and healthy eating information in the Café. Funds from the Game On grant also purchased equipment for a smoothie station and the continuation of cooking demonstrations and nutrition education in the Café.

Funding from the Game On grant also went toward the purchase of yoga mats, straps and other equipment for students to participate in yoga classes. Volunteer yoga instructors teach the classes twice per week through a partnership with Atlanta Yoga Movement. Additionally, instructors teach breathing techniques and desk yoga in the classroom. 

The decision to create a school that supports the emotional, physical and educational needs of students to improve their quality of life is showing gains for Marietta High School, as graduation rates continually improve and attendance has improved over last year. Students requested more classes and are enthusiastic and motivated about physical fitness. Said one student, “The yoga classes are really helping me learn how to exercise more self-control over my emotions and actions. I come every week. It’s helping.” 

Director Leigh Colburn continues to survey her students and found students participating regularly in the weekly yoga classes report increased awareness of physical activity benefits, increased motivation and enthusiasm about physical activity and improved behavior and focus in the classroom. The school’s efforts have even been recognized last year by the Lieutenant Governor of Georgia, Casey Cagle, who awarded the SSC “Innovator of the Year” for its drive in handling student well-being and achievement.