Through reflection, inspirational stories, and creative expression, Santa Catalina School students were invited to explore their inner light during the annual Well-being Day on February 11.
This year's theme was "Creating Light Within." Students heard from two keynote speakers and participated in breakout sessions centered on creativity and movement.
The first speaker was Karen Wright Marsh, director of Theological Horizons at the University of Virginia and author of Vintage Saints and Sinners: 25 Christians Who Transformed My Faith. She based her talk on the words of Santa Catalina's patron saint, St. Catherine of Siena: "Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire." Marsh told "5-minute flash biographies" of four women throughout history who set the world on fire in their own ways. In addition to St. Catherine, who had a "fire to serve" and a "fire to speak," Marsh shared the stories of slave-turned-preacher Amanda Berry Smith; Korean American writer Mary Paik Lee, whose autobiography at age 90 chronicled nearly a century of hardships; and the 11th century German saint and composer Hildegard von Bingen. With each biography, Marsh asked students, "As you listen to this story, what do you hear? How does it connect with you?"
The second keynote speaker of the day was Olympic gold medal snowboarder Kaitlyn Farrington, who talked about the triumphs and setbacks of her athletic career. From deciding to be an Olympian at age 11 to missing the cutoff for the 2010 Games to taking home gold in the women's halfpipe in 2014 and sustaining a career-ending neck injury less than a year later, Farrington talked about dedication, attitude adjustments, pushing limits, knowing what you're capable of, and never losing sight of what ignites you.
In between the two speakers, students had their pick of several breakout sessions. Zooming in from Italy, creative manager, life coach, and artisan Mariangela Mandia led two sessions surrounding the importance of tradition and finding and creating beauty in the world around you. In one session, she demonstrated how to make pasta in a way passed down through her family, while students followed along in their own kitchens. Alumna Carrie Rodella '91, a friend of Mandia's, served as the interpreter for both sessions.
Santa Catalina art teacher Claire Lerner led workshops on "slow looking," a form of mindfulness that teaches us to be present in our lives and to value what is in front of us. Students attempted to sketch a painting as Lerner described it piece by piece. By the time the final painting was revealed—Claude Monet's The Lunch—students had a greater appreciation for the artwork and its elements because they had already imagined it, and they could look at the piece in a different way.
The day also offered several opportunities for movement, with a morning stretch and a fiery flow yoga session led by Roxy Rock, and a Pilates and body conditioning session led by Olava Menczkowska '74.
Overseen by Health and Wellness Director Liz Hulme, Well-being Day was the result of careful planning and hard work by the Student Health and Wellness Committee: Gianna Borges '22, Kaly De la Vega '22, Anna Gorman '23, Spencer Leatherberry '21, Sam Scattini '21, Sarah Scheetz '21, Marissa Schimpf '22, and CC Shaw '23.