End of School Year Stressors for Students

Graduate holding diploma, celebrating

As we conclude the 2022-23 school year we are anticipating the good moments of graduation and eventual moving onto the next phase of life for our high school seniors. Lakeside is about to have 4 different graduations over the next week. These are special moments for our students and staff as we celebrate the achievements of this past year. We have watched many obstacles be overcome and new achievements in the lives of our students who had many life struggles when they entered our programs.

Even though this is typically a time of positive recognition of all that has happened in their lives, there are also some challenges that come with these endings. Each year at the end of the school year we experience a great deal of angst from students who are concluding their year and maybe their school career. We see anger, grief, behavioral regression, depression, anxiety and other related emotions. It seems that the predictable transition phase has a great deal of stress as they enter a new world of the unknown.

For years students are in an intensely structured environment here at Lakeside. They arrive at school and have their day planned for each period. They know their routine. They are given their work. They have predictable relationships and maintain a very specific regimen. These variables have been their life for many years and with graduation looming, that all changes.

Also, here at Lakeside, students who have been unsuccessful in other environments have received a great deal of support from our staff. The relational components are intentional, positive and strong. We work diligently to give them ways to regulate their brains and gain control over some of their unpredictable behaviors that can be destructive. They have been able to be in control of their lives in ways they never dreamed of.

So many students see this is as a transition time where they are afraid that what they have discovered about themselves in a safe environment may be compromised when they leave this environment. Additionally, they are entering a world that is scary and unpredictable. They will be in a less supportive situation and are either going to college or entering the world of employment. All of these new experiences are unfamiliar and there is an intense sensitivity to how stressful the real world of adulthood can become.

As celebratory as graduation may be, we need to help our seniors through a difficult set of existential moments. Most of them will need an extra layer of support and understanding as they conclude a significant phase of their life. Hopefully we can encourage them and give them confidence in what they have achieved. With their new success it is hopeful that they will feel capable to face the future with the skills and growth they have gained. For those seniors in your life, take time to listen and help them have a successful transition at this crucial time in their lives.

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