Boca Raton Community High School students, teachers share mental health struggles

'Motivational Mondays' empowers students to seek help, overcome challenges
Boca Raton Community High School student Daniel Freidin shares his story of living with Autism Spectrum Disorder on May 27, 2021.jpg
Posted at 6:00 AM, May 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-31 10:34:39-04

BOCA RATON, Fla. — As we wrap up Mental Health Awareness Month on Monday, Boca Raton Community High School is going the extra mile to make sure no one feels alone.

The school started a mental health initiative called "Motivational Mondays," and it's connecting students and staff members in ways they never imagined.

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Lights, camera, action.

Stories from all corners of the Boca Raton Community High School campus are being told, from the principal to teachers to students, even the man behind the mission himself.

"Morale is down obviously with COVID, the pandemic, and social distancing and isolation," said teacher Jordan Hernandez. "So administration came to me and said, hey, how can we boost morale here? And so we came up with the idea of 'Motivational Mondays.'"

"Motivational Mondays" is a weekly produced interview with a member of the Boca Raton Community High School family talking about their own life struggles and how to overcome them.


"To try to meet people where they’re at, in their need, in their struggle, and just to encourage and uplift them," Hernandez said. "To know, here’s some of the stories of what we’ve gone through and how we got better. And hopefully it will make the difference for you."

In his video, senior Daniel Freidin spoke about growing up with Autism Spectrum Disorder and how he formed friendships at the high school.

"Honestly, it makes me feel good to know I'm helping out other people who might be in a similar situation as I was in," Freidin said.

Seeing other classmates and teachers share their experiences motivated Freidin to talk about his own.

"It showed me that I really shouldn’t be nervous sharing my own story since other people have the confidence to share theirs," Freidin said.


Working behind the scenes on the videos, Kaitlyn Thomas said she is seeing important changes in her school's culture.

"Actually getting to edit [Daniel's] story, I felt this whole new connection to one of my best friends. It was really eye opening," Thomas said. "Because of 'Motivational Mondays' we are able to be more vulnerable with our class."

"It's really put this new unity and community that we have here at school," Hernandez said. "That's been motivating and uplifting."

Creating connections needed now more than ever.

"If you are feeling stressed out about anything, it's all going to be OK in the end," Freidin said. "Just keep moving and everything will work out just fine."

Hernandez also started the "We Dine Together" program at Boca Raton Community High School several years ago which gained national attention. He hopes to continue with "Motivational Mondays" next school year and develop more resources like podcasts to keep the conversation going.

"We can motivate, encourage, and just let students and teachers know it's OK to struggle and it's OK to be anxious and even depressed," Hernandez said. "We talk about how to get help and how to be resilient."

The students involved in the production of "Motivational Mondays" are Anthony Riggi, Alex Domnitch, Jack Reeder, Kaitlyn Thomas, Gabi Shegota, Jada Fernandez, and Shea Whitacre.

For more information about the initiative and to watch their videos, click here, or visit the "Motivational Mondays" YouTube page by clicking here.