Wagging Tails, Good Food Hoped to Lessen Anxiety of Belmont High Finals

Photo: Dog BONES recently at MIT.


That single word creates more anxiety for high school students around the world than just about any other.

And it’s no different for students at Belmont High School, as high expectations from home and school added to being an adolescent while taking one test after another can, at times, seem overwhelming.

“Students noted that stress at Belmont High is a large issue and wanted to address this,” said Becca Tananbaum, a Belmont High junior who is a member of the school’s Student Leadership Team, a group made up of approximately 74 students who are given the opportunity to take charge of certain aspects of student activities on campus.

At the beginning of the year, Belmont High School Asst. Principal John Muldoon asked the Leadership Team to propose ideas for activities that would enhance the school environment. And what better place then the culmination of the a year’s worth of study.

With a general idea of attempting to improve the general atmosphere surrounding a week’s worth of cramming and worrying, the team focused on giving themselves and their peers a chance to ease up on the academic accelerator.

The result is the school’s inaugural “Stress-Free Brunch” taking place on Wednesday, June 17.

“We have worked closely with Mr. Muldoon and [Belmont High School Principal Dan] Richards to get approval and coordinate our plans,” said Tananbaum.

Team members Erin Cantor and Solvay Metelmann proposed having food available to students between exam periods to alleviate stress. The result will be a brunch with bacon, eggs and hash browns served specially for the event by the cafeteria staff. They are organizing donations as well as working with cafeteria staff and other clubs to provide the food. In addition, student volunteers are baking various foods for the brunch. 

Along with nourishment will be a treat in the auditorium: cute dogs.

“I suggested bringing in therapy dogs during finals week, as spending time with animals has been proven to reduce stress,” said Tananbaum, noting that many universities including Tufts and MIT have found them to be effective in reducing anxiety during exam season.

Partnering with Dog B.O.N.E.S., a Scituate-based organization that provides trained, certified therapy dogs to individuals, medical settings and at elementary, middle and high schools in towns such as Hingham and Ashland.

If successful, the Stress-Free Finals could become a tradition at the High School, noted Richards at a recent School Committee meeting. 

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