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Blackduck High School holds ‘Reach Out Week’

Students wearing yellow in Stacy Bahr’s kindergarten class listen closely for directions on Wednesday. Photo by Jillian Gandsey.1 / 2
Kindergartener Berkley Penner wore yellow on Wednesday for Mental Health Awareness Week. Photo by Jillian Gandsey. 2 / 2

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and students of the Blackduck Elementary and High School have dedicated a whole week to suicide prevention.

Eighth-grader BryAnna Haluptzok participated in Reach Out Week and in a school-wide contest in which students were encouraged to create art projects or make three-minute videos depicting “what gives them hope.”

BryAnna’s video featured her and her horse competing in the state tournament last year with music playing in the background.

“I think it helps people see that they’re not alone and there’s stuff that they can do that they care about,” she said of her video and Reach Out Week. “My horse gives me strength.”

Allysia Ford, in the ninth grade, made a poster. She drew a flower and on its petals are words that have been said to students that hurt them. Next to the flower is a fire that burns away the crude words and the stem and the leaf of the flower have nice words written on them.

“The fire is burning the flower to burn away all the bad things,” Allysia said. “I just thought of it because I like drawing flowers.”

The winner of the contest will receive a $50 Target gift card and two runners-up will win $15 gift cards from Subway. Projects are due for the students on Friday and the winners will be announced on Tuesday.

Even though projects were already being submitted on Wednesday, the contest is only a small portion of the week.

Jean Loehlein, school-based interventionist for the school district, said that this is the second year Reach Out Week has been held.

“Mainly, it’s encouraging kids to reach out to an adult in their life when they’re going through times of stress,” she said. “Everybody needs somebody to talk to.”

Positive quotes were read during the morning announcements each day of the week and on Tuesday paper-doll cutouts were given to all the students.

Students have an adult sign their cutouts so they know that they have a person they can talk to if they need.

“Then the adult knows too that ‘oh I’m this persons go to person when they’re under stress,’” Loehlein said.

The school also received a $400 grant from the Blandin Foundation to supply them with prizes, stickers and arm bands for athletes.

The softball and baseball teams participated in Reach Out Week during their homes games as well. All athletes wore the yellow arm bands and the softball team took pledges, raising $335. The money was presented to Stephanie Downey, Suicide Prevention Coordination at Evergreen Youth and Family Services Inc.

Beyond all of this, more went on in the school this week to bring awareness.

On Tuesday, the National Honor Society sponsored a blood drive. On Wednesday students were encouraged to wear yellow for Mental Health Awareness Week. On Thursday teachers covered their doors with white paper and students wrote what gives them strength and on Friday students exercised for stress relief day.  

“It’s fun to see kids participating and doing things,” Loehlein said. “It’s just a whole week of bringing awareness to the effects of suicide but mainly, especially for the elementary, focusing more on taking care of yourself mentally and thinking happy, positive thoughts.”

Jillian Gandsey

Jillian Gandsey is the Multimedia Editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. She is an Iron Range native and a 2013 graduate of Bemidji State University. Follow Jillian on Twitter and Instagram @jilliangandsey. Contact her at 218-333-9786, 218-996-1216 or at 

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