How Is State High Staying Hopeful in the New Year?


Mental health resources for PA are available online. Please reach out if you or someone you care about is in need of help. Taken from PA department of Human Services.

Ethan Jones, News Editorial Assistant

2020 is over, leaving the US with a global pandemic, a new president, a country in divide, and widespread social unrest. In a time like this, finding hope is something that’s proven rare. This new era is one with an increasingly large emphasis on mental health, and while keeping a positive mindset is at the forefront for many, that’s easier said than done. As State High passes into the new year and resolutions are made, many students and teachers hold hopes and aspirations for 2021—events ranging from social change to spiritual resets. 

 “I’m hoping for some changes brought on by the new president,” sophomore Owen Briscoe said. “I’m not totally optimistic about (Biden) but I do believe he’s a step up from our last president and I’m hoping he can partially lead the country out of the space it’s in right now.”

Other students shared the same sentiment for social change. 

“I really hope that 2021 can bring a sense of unity. The country is very at odds right now and I hope that we can push towards more love and acceptance,” sophomore Jedidiah Yang said.

While some hoped for a reset across the country, others shared their excitement for more personal growth. 

“To be honest, I’m hoping (2021) brings a little bit of a spiritual reset. 2020 was extremely stressful, and I think 2021 should be a starting point for improvement of mental health,” sophomore Cameron Detwiler said.

The importance of carrying mental health and good spirits into the new year isn’t a prospect held only by students. Sophomore English teacher Megan McGinty had a lot to say on the importance of mental health in the classroom. 

“Hope feels especially essential right now,” McGinty said. “I believe ‘hope’ isn’t tied to circumstance—hope is a choice: a choice to be confident that the arc of human development is headed toward justice, compassion, and healing. That we are evolving. That we are not stuck. Hope is a fatal thing to lose in times of uncertainty, and we need the support of our community to remember how to hold onto it.”

McGinty stressed the importance of offering her students the best environment possible for mental health.

“I try to provide a space for students to honestly honor and acknowledge whatever is coming up for them,” McGinty said. “We tend to want to ‘gloss over’ emotions or thoughts that make us vulnerable: pain, sadness, grief, anger. I say dive right into those and give them space to breathe. If we don’t give space for the truth of our experience, our thoughts/feelings/emotions will just resurface in another, less pleasant, less honest way later on. Buried feelings never die.”

McGinty had plenty of advice to offer students on how to maintain good mental health throughout the year: “Staying ‘positive’ shouldn’t be the goal, in my opinion. Retaining an internal sense of hope that is unaffected by external factors seems like a better one. Cultivate inner strength. Find moments of calm to collect yourselves. Listen to your body. Know that you are not alone, and rely on your strong relationships to feel connection during this time.”

Finding hope in the new year can prove challenging in any era, especially after the stress-filled mess that has been 2020, but it’s imperative to stay grounded. Finding these positives to appreciate and continuing to move forward can ensure the chance of better mental health in the coming year, both in and out of the classroom.