Smoky Hill’s Zen Den

The Zen Den is a new addition at Smoky for students to destress and hang out during their lunches

Smoky Hills Zen Den

Rainey Sharp, Staffer

Located in the upstairs 100s hallway lies the Zen Den. Several teachers have worked hard to make it a comfortable, cozy place for students to occupy on their lunch breaks.

Morgan Watts, a substance abuse prevention specialist at Smoky Hill, holds an event every Tuesday that she likes to call “Good Soup”. Students can gather for free ramen and socialize during first and second lunches.

“I kind of shifted more from you know, [having] a structured curriculum or talking to students about managing their stress but more of a focus on building positive relationships, or having a space of connection,” Watts said when asked how the Zen Den has evolved into what it is now.

A school-based therapist through Aurora Mental Health, Elizabeth Healy, also runs an event in the Zen Den. Every Thursday she hosts art therapy, allowing the first 10 students to destress and talk while working on art projects; these can include painting, making picture frames, and DIY’s.

“It used to be a detention [room],” Healy said, “But I believe Miss Watts and Miss Harding came up with the idea. ‘Why don’t we make it into more of like a therapeutic space so that we’re preventing kids from getting detention because we’re helping them distress or helping them cope with stuff going on for them so that they’re not going to do something [to get them] in trouble.'”

Kyela Nwoke (10) frequents the Zen Den for Good Soup on Tuesdays. She said that the space “[are] really relaxing and it feels like a safe place. You never feel out of place.”

The goal of the Zen Den is to better the students in the community and keep them in check starting this Spring semester. Allowing students to have a safe space keeps them out of trouble and comfortable in the school.