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April 18, 2022 / North

North celebrates Mindfulness Path

On April 14, the North School PTA held a Book Fair and celebrated the mindfulness path created in the school’s courtyard. The path includes a mural of student artwork that was installed just before the start of the pandemic.

“The path is a great addition to our school. It helps our students remember to stay in the moment,” said Dr. Joe Ritchie, assistant principal at North. “It can help them refocus. Our teachers have students visit the path before or after a test. Sometimes if a class seems to have too much energy, a teacher can bring them outside to walk the path and refocus.”

The concept for the path began before the pandemic when several North staff members attended conferences and read about how one way to deal with trauma is through mindfulness.

From there, North special teachers (Mrs. Alvey, Mrs. Allan, and Mrs. Kilar who has been replaced with Mrs. Connelly) started a mindfulness committee.

Among many activities and strategies, the team wanted to create a mindfulness path that staff and students could use. With the help of Mrs. Sarah O’Donnell from the Tri-Town YMCA, a grant was secured for the project through Debbie Venezia of the DuPage Foundation.

Jason Watts, the lead artist for the project, was on hand for the celebration.

Watts said the mural has a garden theme and took about three weeks to complete over the summer. Once the theme was established, Mrs. Allan had her students create art related to the outdoors. students created drawings that Watts eventually incorporated into the mural.

“I’ve done many murals but this was the first one done on the ground,” said Watts. “It presented some challenges for me with using different muscles.”

At the Book Fair, the North School PTA had printed pictures of the path available for students. Jason Watts autographed copies for students.

“It is amazing to see how much the path is used,” said Dr. Joe Ritchie. “Our teachers bring students out to the courtyard for breaks, and staff also use the path during their break time.”

The courtyard also contains flower beds that will be transformed into greenhouses. Staff will be planting sometime this spring but will also have the ability to grow produce throughout the year. The goal is to grow items and give the produce to North families.