It’s About Mental Health, Charlie Brown!

Posted on November 16th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

Stressing over homework. Feeling inadequate. Teased by peers. Anxious about a special someone.

Poor Charlie Brown.

Anxiousness, uncertainty, and sadness are just a few emotions that all of us have or will experience at one time or another. In You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, based on characters in Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts comics and on stage this weekend at Allendale Columbia School, we see the characters express those feelings and more.

We witness how Sally becomes so angry because her jump rope was tangled. She is so angry that she found it hard to verbally articulate her displeasure. We then see Schroeder become a sounding board, driving home the point that support comes in many forms including family, friends, teachers, and, in the case of Snoopy, pets.

Lucy is faced with the truth of her crabbiness and then commiserates about all of the unhappiness she has been spreading and bemoans feeling undeserving. Thankfully, Linus encourages her and affirms her reason for living by reminding her that she has a little brother who loves her. It’s meaningful for all of us to receive a reminder from time to time that there is someone in our corner, who values us without qualifiers and recognizes our uniqueness.

We see this again in Lucy’s psychiatrist booth when she strives to support Charlie Brown. Her approach is not seamless, and she may appear to judge him harshly at the start, but she validates his feelings and provides a listening ear. Most importantly, what she relays to Charlie at the end of their session is powerful: “For whatever it’s worth Charlie Brown, you’re you.” Despite any symptoms of depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem, Charlie Brown is remarkably unique. He is a real boy, not the sum of his faults, insecurities, or differences. He’s human. He’s deserving. He’s worthy.

Students can often struggle with identity and self-discovery. As parents friends, and support professionals, we can remember that sometimes all a student needs is a listening ear — though charging 5 cents, as Lucy does, is not necessarily recommended.

All of us, students and adults alike, can take many of the tidbits of wisdom gleaned from You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown to heart as we consider our interactions with others, including those who may be experiencing challenges with their mental health. We can express our feelings. We can acknowledge our faults as well as our strengths. We can listen without judgment. We can accept, even praise, people for who they are.

The good news is, friends often come through when they see someone feeling down. Charlie Brown himself, despite his woes, still manages to look at life with hope and has developed resiliency. And if Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, and crew were at AC, they’d know they have a full support network to help them through these emotions.

Even though adults are absent from the script, typical for Schulz’s comics, we should also remember that we can seek help from trusted adults when needed. Allendale Columbia’s students have a team of support professionals offering a variety of resources to help with learning differences, strategies for success, and even stress, anxiety, and other social and emotional issues. (See “Students Supported by Ready Team of Professionals”).

 

You can see the Upper School’s performances of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, with the “Charlie” cast this Friday, November 16th, at 7:00 p.m., and Saturday, November 17th, at 2:00 p.m., and the “Snoopy” cast Saturday at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, November 18th, at 2:00 p.m. in Allendale Columbia’s Curtis Performance Center, 519 Allens Creek Road, Rochester, NY. Tickets are available at the door or online at acs.booktix.com.

 

Kristin Cocquyt

Starmeshia Jones

Before joining AC, Starmeshia worked as a School Psychologist in the Indianapolis Public Schools and as a Residential Counselor at DePaul Mental Health Services. She earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Michigan State University and a Master of Science Degree in School Psychology as well as a Certificate of Advanced Study from Roberts Wesleyan College, and is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP).
Kristin Cocquyt

Rachael Sanguinetti

Rachael is in her third year teaching music at AC. A recent graduate of the Eastman School of Music with majors in Music Education and Musical Arts with a minor in Psychology and an Arts Leadership Certificate, she's working toward a masters degree at Ithaca College. She brings experience teaching kindergarten-8th grade music in Rochester, 6th-8th grade general music and choir at Burger Middle School, and 2-3 year olds as part of the Eastman Community School Early Childhood Music Program.
Kristin Cocquyt

John Palomaki

After working at a small college in California and some early tech companies, John spent a stimulating 10 years at Microsoft through the 90s as a systems engineer and managing executive relations programs. Since then, John has worked with non-profit organizations and has held leadership roles in independent schools in New Jersey and Connecticut in development, communications, and technology. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Natural Sciences (Biology) from Colgate University.
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Posted in: Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Ninth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

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