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American Rescue Plan funds high school “chill rooms” for students

  Amber Cool (left) and Jordan Devers enjoy a short break from class Wednesday in the Logger Chill Lounge.
Courtesy Photo
Health Department of Northwest Michigan
Amber Cool (left) and Jordan Devers enjoy a short break from class Wednesday in the Logger Chill Lounge.

Instead of leaving schools or hiding under the bleachers, students at some high schools can now go to a cozy room complete with a Keurig if they need to relax.

The hope is that the “chill rooms" will be proactive intervention and deter students from drinking or smoking to calm down, said Kirstyn Horan, community health coordinator at the Health Department of Northwest Michigan.

“It's really just to kind of create a space for them to work through their thoughts and emotions that we know our teens are having right now," Horan said.

The rooms were funded by money from the American Rescue Plan to help prevent students from resorting to substance abuse to deal with daily stress, she said.

"They all have their own different colors, their own different mascots, and they really worked to incorporate them into their rooms to give them a personality of their own so that students feel like they’re comfortable in their space rather than having it being the typical waiting room feeling," Horan said.

At Petoskey High School, Principal Deidra Gamble said the lounge allows space for students to relax after class or with the permission of a teacher during school hours.

Students designed the space in a drafting class and put it together themselves, she said.

"Because the students designed it, created it, and put in the time to build it, I really think they’re taking a lot of ownership in keeping it nice and fresh and we won’t have to do a lot of rehab to the space," Gamble said.

Students are looking forward to using the room, she said. The school has no plans to expand the room yet, but she says they will get data to see what they could do in the future.

Right now, schools have to maintain the rooms themselves, but she said she’d like to see additional grant money to expand the project.

Ben Jodway is an intern, serving as a reporter for WCMU Public Media and the Pioneer in Big Rapids. He has covered Indigenous communities and political extremism in Michigan.