BAR HARBOR — Mount Desert Island High School Principal Matt Haney’s goals for the rest of the school year include finding ways to better promote students’ mental and physical health.
“We’re working with guidance to try and identify students [with mental health problems] before it gets to be a crisis,” he told the high school board last week.
That could be difficult because “every teenager is in some sort of pre-crisis, every one of them,” he joked.
He said the school already tries to support students’ mental health, but he wants to increase those efforts.
“As for specific plans, that’s what we’ve got to figure out,” he said.
Achieving his second goal – getting students to exercise more – should help reduce mental health problems, as well as improve students’ physical well-being, Haney said.
“I want to have in place a plan to not just increase opportunities, but as much as possible, have it built in that every student will have something like 15 minutes of physical activity every day,” he told the school board.
“I’m not talking about replacing physical education. I’m talking about getting everybody moving in some way.”
Board member Teresa King-Leclair noted that some teenagers want nothing to do with exercise and don’t want to be told they have to do it.
Haney responded that there are some people who “don’t like to read or don’t like to do math, but we make them do those things for their own good.”
“I’m not going to get into a fight with somebody because they’re so terrified of doing this that they stop coming to school, which is why I said ‘as close to everybody as possible.’”
Haney said he wants to give students a choice of ways to be physically active.
“We’re not going to bring the whole school down to the gym and do synchronized jumping jacks for 15 minutes,” he said. “Choice is part of it, and education is part of it.”