Author Archives: tysylvester

Understanding, Recognizing, and Coping with Mental Illness

What is mental illness? Many of people fail to pose this question and therefore are unable to recognize the significance of mental illness. Mental illness is a disease that changes one’s thoughts or behavior in life’s ordinary routines. 

How can one recognize they need help? It is important to pay attention to one’s sudden changes in thoughts or behaviors. Some symptoms may include: confused thinking, feelings of extreme highs and lows, and suicidal thoughts. 

How to cope day-to-day? If your struggling with mental illness you have to establish a support system, seek counseling, and handle or accept your unusual behavior. 

Why is this so important within today’s generation? Nearly 1 in 7 kids and teens have a mental health condition and often goes untreated. Our generation can make a difference and help aid curing mental health. We can help create a strong support system for those struggling. We can help create an environment where kids feel comfortable talking through their emotions and feelings. I see this as something that’s giving back to our community because there are students at Suffield Academy who are struggling and need support. Suffield Academy offers a strong support system but typically through teachers’ guidance. What if students met with other students to help guide them through their experience at Suffield? I firmly believe this topic is extremely relevant to our community, and we can make an impact by spreading awareness, showing others how to cope with mental illness, and recognizing who needs help!  

Signs and Feelings



The Importance of Reflection

Student-Centered Project-Based Learning has given me the opportunity to write freely. When I describe this type of learning as “freely”, I am emphasizing the freedom I was given when choosing a topic about which to write. I enjoyed the blog drafting process a good deal because I was able collaborate ideas with classmates and add visuals to my written work. For my drunk driving blog post, I incorporated a graph which included death rate statistics due to drunk driving; I thought it added a visual element to my writing that words couldn’t necessarily describe. The blog posting process created a platform for successful collaboration, in which I was able to give and receive constructive feedback from my peers. Equally, I really liked how our class used Twitter, which made it less of a social media platform and more of an academic resource. The use of Twitter caused me to become a more creative writer because I had to condense my ideas into less than a sentence, which initially proved as a daunting task, but ultimately impacted my writing positively. Through using Twitter, I have realized that social media is equally as social as it is collaborative. Twitter has allowed me to reach out to different experts and has shown me what the networking world looks like. Before taking our A period class I actually did not understand how to network, but throughout the winter term I’ve gained not only life-long skills but experience. I was able to take these skills I learned and apply them to real life situations. Our PBL class has created an atmosphere where students feel comfortable in the classroom setting to share their opinions during classroom discussions. The biggest takeaway from this first term is the importance of collaboration. At first, I was against having other students read my work because I feared they might think it was “stupid” or “did not make sense”, but I have come to realize it is an exercise that is very beneficial. I think working hand and hand with other students builds my confidence in the classroom setting, and by collaborating ideas with my peers, I was able to produce some of my best work. I worked with Anna on the “What’s News” blog post, and by combining elements of both of our work, we produced a high-level final product. Ultimately, I think I’m developing as a person and as student in our PBL class.

Implementing reflection into your every day life

What’s News? Our Thoughts…

Spreading the word

Our “What’s News” cycle is a great conversation starter for our A period Project Based Learning class. For this process, everyone in our class prepares a news story to tell to the class summarized. The story could be from any source and could be about a current affairs topic that the student finds interesting and important. When we share a “What’s News” cycle, our class typically feels refreshed and ready to start the day. It wakes us up, helps with our learning for the rest of the day, and keeps us up to date with what’s happening in the world. This is a very engaging way to start class because everyone has to have summarized a news story to tell to the class, and everyone has their computer screen down, which creates more real conversations. The process not only allows us to interact with my classmates but it also gives everyone a voice in the class. While it’s entertaining and interesting it’s also an educational exercise. Ultimately, this activity is interactive, exciting, and beneficial to starting the day off on the right note.

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Creating a Better Future for Young Parents

Dimitri Christakis created a program that teaches young parents parenting skills. The program is called “Bright Start” and aims towards first-time mothers. The team of experts is teaching first-time moms “how to create better learning environments.” Bright Start wants young parents to avoid screen time with their children and instead play something like board games. The program will actively follow these families and track strategies to help with their child’s development. Ultimately, Dimitri is the leader behind this study and is trying to cut down on screen use until kids have developed past the age of four. The goal is to help create a model for young parents nationwide and to deliver a plan to manage screen use.

DIMITRI CHRISTAKIS, MD – Twitter: @DAChristakis

Helping first-time mothers


Stop Drinking and Driving!

How can we stop people from drinking and driving after a few drinks out with friends, co-workers, or family? Drunk driving is extremely prominent within our generation because currently we are in the early stages of driving. In driver’s education, we learned briefly about substance abuse relating towards driving, but we did not learn the effects it has on others. When someone decides to drink and drive, it not only puts themselves at risk but everyone else around them. People fail to recognize this problem, and it is easy to forget. Interestingly, the only time people understand the importance of not drinking and driving is when this issue personally affects them. Consequently, tragedy starts with a poor decision that can end up resulting in death. Drunk driving is our class’ strongest topic because this is the time teenagers are experimenting with alcohol, and our generation needs to be more aware in stopping teenagers from driving afterwards. Ultimately, teenagers need to understand the importance of not drinking and driving or it will continue to be a problem. Therefore, teenagers need a broader awareness understanding on what drunk driving really means and how it affects others. 


Tragedy within the younger generations