"Mrs. Elrod's article is perfectly timed for a moment in history when many, young and old alike, are plagued by stress and uncertainty," said Head of School Karen Bohlin. Read the complete article below:
In one of the most cited passages from Scripture, Paul writes, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).
At Montrose School, we look to the person of Jesus as our true north. We know He is the source of our peace and joy. But the practical question remains: how do we help young people tap into this joy and peace as they navigate the very real and present stresses of their day?
Amidst an historic backdrop of societal challenges, with uncertainty in a lead role and anxiety the formidable antagonist, no one, young or old, is immune to stress. At Montrose, we lean on a foundation of character formation, the teachings of the Catholic faith, and a rich liberal arts program. With these supports, not only is our community facing current obstacles with grace, but we are helping students to fearlessly recognize stress as an opportunity for growth and navigate it with agility and courage.
Practically, this means that, at Montrose, teachers and mentors help girls reframe challenges by looking at them as opportunities to grow. When we identify that opportunity and count on God’s grace, we redirect those feelings of stress and take small steps toward a more focused goal.
In her remarks during our opening assembly, Head of School Karen Bohlin acknowledged stress, saying, “We know that we are all facing major stress tests. But we also know that the psychological response to stress and anxiety—a racing pulse, sweaty palms, butterflies in the stomach—is very similar to that of excitement.”
Montrose students manage these physical signs of stress by pausing regularly to turn to their growing faith. Junior Alanna Hyatt found that during Montrose’s distance learning in the spring, what she missed most about school was our chapel. “Whether I was going to Mass, confession, adoration, or just stopping by the chapel, I found ways to spend a few minutes with God,” she said.
When we resumed in-person learning earlier this month on our Medfield campus, Dr. Bohlin reminded our students that they have already gained the skills to navigate small and large stress tests. “Most of you have auditioned for a play, tried out for a sport, or stood on the foul line knowing yours would be the game-deciding shot. Some of you have had family members lose their jobs. Others lost relatives during this pandemic. But in spite of the pain and anxiety that accompany these stress tests, we know we are not alone. Jesus reminds us, ‘Be not afraid.’"
Our upperclasswomen practice this trust in God. Senior Gabriella Bachiochi
, a Faith Peer Leader at Montrose and contributor to The Looking Glass
, our student newspaper, wrote recently, “I realized that quarantine tested my relationship with God more than it has been tested before. Although I have moments where I falter every day, God is where I find hope and how I center myself again.”
Though our country has never been more divided, Dr. Bohlin reminded our faculty that our responsibility as educators is to prepare our young people to live as ambassadors of peace and hope. “In our classrooms, they learn to use courageous dialogue to practice fair-mindedness, communicate with charity and treat people with dignity. Leaning into stress tests, asking for help -- from God, their mentors, classmates, and family -- is a powerful way that we teach courage, agility and perseverance. As a community, we develop new habits of mind, heart and character that enable us to aim for greatness.”
Last month, the Jubilee Centre for Character & Virtues at the University of Birmingham (UK), the world’s leading ethics and character institute, publicly praised Montrose School’s Stress Tests of Character
. Spearheaded by my colleague Deborah Farmer Kris, this comprehensive digital resource provides educators and parents a toolkit, purposefully designed as an inspirational resource and compass for our students as they navigate life’s most pressing concerns.
When our students returned to class, I offered a practical application of our approach, reminding them as they seek new friendships: “My very best friend, the person I rely on the most, is Jesus.”To learn more about Montrose School’s internationally-recognized Stress Test of Character e-Resource, visit montroseschool.org/stresstests.
Read the article in the Boston Pilot.