Changes coming to Chill Room


Ava Bell

Taylor Kyle is the Chill Room’s newest clinical educator.

In an effort to return the program to its original purpose, fewer students soon will be able to go to the Chill Room at one time, and those who do will have to hand over their phones upon entry.

Dr. William Davies, who oversees the Chill Program at Allegheny Health Network, is leading the reboot of the program.

“The last year has been very challenging, and due to various reasons, the guidelines for the usage of the room have been relaxed,” Davies said. “These changes are not only re-establishing the original guidelines for the room, but are also adding some new innovative programming.” 

The Chill Program is designed to help students learn strategies to improve mental health, as well as to provide a place where students could go if they were starting to feel overwhelmed during the school day.

“It’s not just a hangout space,”  Principal Shaun Tomaszewski said. “It’s a space where kids can go and learn strategies to deal with stress and anxieties.”

More recently, though, some students have been going to the Chill Room because they prefer it over going to the cafeteria, study hall, or class.

“I think the high school faculty developed frustration and concerns from kids using the Chill Room as an excuse not to go to class,” Tomaszewski said.

To avoid that, and to preserve a calm atmosphere in the Chill Room, fewer students will be able to visit at one time.

There will be a signup sheet outside of the Chill Room for lunch or study halls, and a student will not be able to go to the room those periods every single day. E-Hall Pass will continue to be used during other periods to set a limit on how many students are in the room at once.

“We’re going to look into what makes most sense by reviewing capacity on an ongoing basis,” Tomaskewski said.

To maintain both a safe space and an educational environment, a new clinical educator has been hired.

“The new Chill Room educator, Taylor Kyle, also has experience in clinical settings,” Tomaszewski said. 

Starting this week, students will turn over their phones immediately after entering the Chill Room. This change is being implemented due to excessive phone use and the stress that phones create.

“I would say the benefits of turning in your phone is to give time to think about yourself and connect with yourself rather than being distracted by other people on social media or whatever,” Kyle said.

To record data on stress levels, the Chill Room has recently introduced stress level cards. These reusable templates record a students’ level of stress after entering the room and before going back to class.

Activity lunch periods will be a new implementation with Kyle, where students can sign up to eat lunch in the Chill Room with a different theme each week. 

The changes in the Chill Program aim to give students at Baldwin the assistance they need with stress and mental health issues.

“Students will be able to experience the Chill Room in a way that was originally designed,” Davies said.

When the Chill Room was first introduced, sophomore social studies and freshman English classes would visit the room each month for lessons on wellness and relaxation techniques. Due to the pandemic, this schedule was interrupted. But reintroducing monthly Chill Room class visits is a possibility for next year. 

“Students will not only be able to learn new skills to help cope with the stressors of everyday life, but will also be able to check-in with the Chill Room teacher when they are having a mental health related concern,” Davies said.

Some students who have visited the Chill Room were supportive of the changes.

“I think it will be a much better environment for the people who really need the Chill Room instead of people just using it to skip a class,” junior Brady Hartman said. 

Junior Brooklyn Williams, president of the Chill Club, said the new changes will be beneficial.

“Going back to having whole classes in the Chill Room to get tips would be a good idea because kids might be nervous to go in there by themselves,” Williams said. 

Hartman and Williams both said they are looking forward to learning more helpful tools that were provided through the Chill Program two years ago.

“I learned tactics to calm myself down and publicly express my feelings more,” Hartman said.

But not everyone likes the Chill Room changes.

“I used to sometimes go up to the Chill Room during my lunch because it is much nicer and peaceful than the cafeterias,” said sophomore Hannah Alaimo. “I liked that it could just be a place to chill out and relax.”

Freshman Alayla Bivins also said some of the changes are unnecessary.

“Many kids go in there to find peace and to get away from the loudness of the classes and cafeteria,” Bivins said.