Bedford High’s Challenge Day moves students toward enhanced social and emotional well-being

Challenge Day at Bedford High School was held March 24. Students took part in a day-long workshop, which included a wide range of exercises designed to enhance social-emotional well-being. The program has been held several times at BHS, including twice this fall.

Co-organizer and school counselor Kristie Torbick noted the BHS counseling department relates academics to social and emotional health and thus thinks highly of this program.

The Challenge Day exercises are meant to help students better relate to others, develop empathy and gain perspective.The program inspires students to be compassionate and initiate positive change in their school communities.

“It’s a powerful day to say the least,” Torbick said. “We were fortunate to have an anonymous donor fund this particular day. Whoever you are, thank you. This was a gift to our students that they’ll remember forever.”

Counselors Kristie Torbick and Zanna Blaney first brought this program to BHS in fall 2012. BHS hosted its fourth challenge day with the money from the donor. Historically, the program was funded by grants from the Bedford Education Foundation, the Bedford PTG and BHS.

Alison Puffer, a school counselor and co-organizer of the event, shared comments from participants. Notably, a student in grade 10 called the event the greatest experience of the student’s life. An adult commented that it was extremely rewarding to see kids connecting with each other. A ninth-grader said the event enabled him to understand other people with his heart instead of his eyes. Another grade 10 student noted that it made her feel empowered to make her school a better place.

“Challenge Day was an invaluable experience for me as an adult leader,” one adult said. “it helped me get to know the students on a different level and made me feel proud to work with such great people and among such amazing students.”

Challenge Day is designed for about 100 students, 15 student leaders and 30 staff members. Puffer noted the large proportion of adults is critical to the success of the day.

“The staff participants were counselors, teachers, support staff, volunteers and even the librarian and school police officer participated,” Puffer said. “We are so grateful to have the support and interest of the staff to help us run this program.”

Throughout the day, the Challenge Day leaders, who arrive to the school early on the morning of the event, engage the participants in fun and interactive team-building games and allow students and staff an opportunity to connect with each other.

The program concludes with students “challenging” each other to make their school and community a better place.

More information about Challenge Day can be found at