Sayville Middle School February 10, 2020
Sharing the Truth About Anxiety Disorders
At the recent well-attended Parent-and-Community Evening, Sayville School District screened Angst, a 56-minute documentary that brought educators and families together for a united purpose—to clear the air about anxiety disorders. Angst “includes interviews with kids, teens, educators, experts and parents. The goal is to start a global conversation about anxiety and mental health. Most importantly, the film is designed to help people identify and understand the symptoms of anxiety disorders and encourage them to reach out for help.”
“No goal is more important,” Sayville Schools Superintendent Dr. John E. Stimmel said during his welcoming remarks, “than the social emotional well-being of our children.” This initiative “reflects the priority of the school board to address the needs of the whole child.” After, Dr. Stimmel introduced Mrs. Jillian Makris—familiar to many Sayville residents as the former assistant principal at the High School, but through restructuring of administrative roles has begun this year as the Director of Student Services—who orchestrated the evening event.
Mrs. Makris welcomed all the Sayville and Bayport-Blue Point residents in attendance and acknowledged Jessica Olsen Hoek from The Great South Bay Coalition. “We are really honored and privileged to have a partnership with the Great South Bay Coalition and their organization. Our partnership is one of the reasons we were able to bring this documentary Angst to our community.”
Mrs. Makris reiterated the main objective of the documentary Angst, adding that it was created “to rid our community and our world of the stigma associated with mental health.” She explained, “…we thought that it was important for the parents to see the film first, so that when your children (students in grades 8 through 12) view it tomorrow, you can have a conversation as a family.” Mrs. Makris also introduced Sayville staff from Pupil Personnel Services and Guidance as the “integral members of our PPS team here today.” Robin McKinnon (CA); Catherine Pennello (CA), Lynn Hill (LA), Lauri Carluccio (LA), Toni Fabian (SD), Dawn Lloyd-Matthews (MS), Noemi Barczak (MS), Lisa Scannell (MS), Jennifer Doddato (HS), Elizabeth Quinlan (HS), Beth Cooperman (HS), Jennifer Pearson (DW), Guidance: Colleen Backer (HS), Tim Dillon (HS), Kelly Raycroft (MS)
In addition, Mrs. Makris introduced David Hymowitz, a licensed social worker for thirty years who specializes in mental health and substance abuse. “He has been working as a staff trainer within the district this year.”
After the screening, the audiences were moved by the honest and poignant struggles of the children with anxieties in Angst. And the takeaway message—“let’s talk about it!”—was loud and clear. As the Angst information materials state: "Spread the word. Believe Change is possible.”
“As a district, we are really proud of how the evening turned out,” Mrs. Makris reflected the following day. “It was awesome to see the community and staff come together for a common goal. And, today (February 11th), it was exciting to hear the feedback from our students after watching the film. This is what it is about—the students, first and foremost. That is the message—we are here for them to support them in every way possible.”
Special thanks go to the representatives from Community agencies that set up tables with supportive materials:
Great South Bay Coalition, Great South Bay Therapy, Inspiring Wellness, LGBTQ Network, Long Island Prevention Resource Center, South Bay Wellness, Sunrise Counseling Center, YMCA Family Services.