Friends R Family hulas pre-exam stress away with luau

Ryan+Iacaruso+%2812%29+throwing+a+plate+of+whipped+cream+in+Mr.+Lurz%27s+face+on+May+4%2C+2018+in+the+courtyard.+Ms.+Weakland%2C+Ms.+Brady%2C+Mr.+Yeager%2C+and+a+handful+of+other+teachers+were+also+pied+in+the+face.
Ryan Iacaruso (12) throwing a plate of whipped cream in Mr. Lurz's face on May 4, 2018 in the courtyard. Ms. Weakland, Ms. Brady, Mr. Yeager, and a handful of other teachers were also pied in the face.

Ryan Iacaruso (12) throwing a plate of whipped cream in Mr. Lurz's face on May 4, 2018 in the courtyard. Ms. Weakland, Ms. Brady, Mr. Yeager, and a handful of other teachers were also pied in the face.

Skylar Cassel

Skylar Cassel

Ryan Iacaruso (12) throwing a plate of whipped cream in Mr. Lurz's face on May 4, 2018 in the courtyard. Ms. Weakland, Ms. Brady, Mr. Yeager, and a handful of other teachers were also pied in the face.

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The sun shines down on Patterson Mill’s courtyard on May 4, filled with students laughing, chatting, eating pizza, and throwing plates of whipped cream in their teachers’ faces. This is the Friends R Family luau, which is intended to let students relax and have fun before AP exams and other stressful events coming up at the end of the school year. Ms. Limpert, the teacher of ninth grade health, advanced health, and Friends R Family sponsor wants the luau to, “give everybody in the building a place to kind of relax and…enjoy each other’s company before the stressful period of testing begins.” The luau has even been a tradition at PMHS for longer than Ms. Limpert has been the sponsor of the Friends R Family Club, which planned and arranged it. So how is it supposed to help the stressed teenagers of Patterson Mill?

The luau has been planned since February, and the result was a courtyard filled with tropical-looking flowers, tables of food, and groups of students laughing and talking with each other. There was a cornhole game set up in the middle of the courtyard, along with several tables filled with pizza, cookies, donuts, and more off to the side. In the corner, there was even a background put up on the wall so friends could take pictures together with little props. Even the moment a student would walk in, a member of Friends R Family would hand them a colorful lei to celebrate the luau. Ms. Limpert described the luau as an “open atmosphere on a nice day” for friends to just talk and laugh together. This could be seen in the groups of friends gathered around tables and chairs, laughing and just talking without worrying about the stress of school pressing down on them.

Skylar Cassel
Thomas Kragh, Ryan Iacaruso, Michael Hagepanos, and James Frye, all seniors, enjoying the luau together on May 4, 2018 in the courtyard. Ryan Iacaruso was also chosen to pie a teacher in the face.

According to a survey done by the American Psychological Association, teens report higher averages of stress levels than adults. Coupled with the fact that 42% of teens don’t even know how to properly manage their stress, this could mean trouble for the students of Patterson Mill that face AP exams, standardized testing, end-of-quarter projects, and more stressful events related to school. One of the problems of stressed-out teenagers is that they tend to detach themselves from their friends, which can be detrimental to their mental health. “We know that one of the problems that we see in teengers is that there’s isolation…when they’re stressed,” Ms. Limpert explains, “And so laughing with friends and…talking and being active will help them [forget they’re stressed].” As Ms. Limpert points out, the games and social interactions during the luau helped connect students with their friends again, providing a support system for when the upcoming exams hit. Though eating pizza and chatting with friends on a sunny day seems like a great time on its own, the luau has another interesting event: having students push plates of whipped cream in to the faces of their favorite teachers.

When entering the courtyard, a student could sign up to possibly have their name drawn so they could throw a plate of whipped cream in a teacher’s face. At around 2:15, the officers of Friends R Family announced that they would be drawing the winners. They called out each teacher’s name one by one, and which student got to “pie” them in the face. The teachers were given goggles to wear – some even brought hairnets and ponchos. After each teacher got the whipped cream in their face, they would stand and smile next to the student that had offered to pie them, even though whipped cream covered their face and dropped off their chins. The crowd of students watching would laugh and cheer for every new teacher covered in whipped cream.

Skylar Cassel
Ms. Weakland and Ms. Richter posing in front of the luau’s photo shoot area on May 4, 2018 in the courtyard. Both teachers teach social studies at Patterson Mill High.

Even as the luau began to wind down, it was clear that students walked away feeling refreshed from their interactions with their friends, free food and drinks, games of cornhole, and watching teachers get whipped cream smeared all over their face. Thanks to the Friends R Family luau, the students of Patterson Mill are ready to take on the exams coming their way.

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Friends R Family hulas pre-exam stress away with luau