High School Hosts P.S. I Love You Day February 14 , 2020
As part of the French Honor Society, students are required to do community service. Mrs. Chapman wanted to raise awareness for mental health issues that many students in our district face. She could not do it alone so she enlisted two French Honor Society officers - Claire Dearie and Bridget Riley. Cortland HS had in the past celebrated P.S. I Love You Day - and this was something that Claire and Bridget thought aligned with their goal of raising awareness for mental health.
The mission of P.S. I Love You Day is to bring awareness to the importance of mental health and decrease bullying. The organization believes that by educating students earlier about mental health, the conversation will be easier to discuss and students will be able to recognize when they or others around them need help. On the second Friday of every February, students wear purple in order to foster kindness and a welcoming environment, and educate others that mental health is just as important as physical health.
On February 14, every locker in the high school and junior high school was decorated with positive messages using purple post-it-notes. Between Bridget, Claire, and other members of their committee, over 1,000 post-its were written. Students also wore their purple P.S. I Love You t-shirts.
One of Mrs. Chapman’s biggest goals was to reach out to local mental health agencies in hopes that they would be interested in holding a mental health fair. The response was so positive and overwhelming. On February 13, organizations such as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Mental Health Department of Cortland County and the Cortland Outreach Center for the LGBTQ rights all set up booths in the hallway of the cafeteria for students to ask questions and find out more information about mental health topics. Bridget Riley said, “this really was a joint effort between myself, Mrs. Chapman and Claire. Mrs. Chapman helped us organize the different community organizations to come in for the mental health fair. I remember participating in P.S. I Love You Day when I was in 8th grade and wanted to bring it back.”
French teacher Kelly Chapman said, “The overall goal of P.S. I Love You Day has always been near to my heart. I have watched too many of my students suffer from anxiety and depression. I wanted to do something about it. When my friend Amy Tooley introduced P.S. I Love You Day to me in 2014, I was all in. I helped her out every year. After she left the district, the responsibility fell to another teacher who, unfortunately, also left the district. This year I felt that it was necessary to bring it back. With the ever increasing number of students suffering, I wanted to make sure they could have access to information and also understand that they are never alone in their life journey. I asked Claire and Bridget to help me because they remembered when we celebrated a few years ago. I hope by showing the importance of mental health awareness in our schools that we have helped at least one student.”