A SPEAKER FOR OUR TIMES

by Director of Counseling Laura Cuneo and School Therapist/Counselor Kathryn Howard, LMFT

On Tuesday, March 24, Chaminade is blessed to be welcoming New York Times best-selling author and educator Julie Lythcott-Haims to our campus. In the afternoon, she will speak to all our high school students; in the evening, she will direct her focus to you, our parents. Julie comes to us with a wealth of experience. As a former Dean of Freshmen Admissions at Stanford University, she was known for her fierce advocacy for young adults and her critique of the growing trend of parental involvement in the day-to-day lives of college students that proved more detrimental than helpful.

If you’re wondering why we would invite her to speak here, the answer lies in what we have been seeing among our student body in the last few years at Chaminade, consistently on, but not limited to, the high school campus. In our counseling offices, we are seeing as many students about their mental health, depression, and anxiety, as we are about their course selections and college plans. We see students suffering panic attacks during class and students threatening to end it all because they “aren’t good enough” or “just can’t do it anymore.” We see them knee-deep in the rat race, or, as many have come to call it, the ‘race to nowhere,’ struggling through an overscheduled and overwhelmed daily routine. As a Catholic institution, Chaminade strives to educate the whole student, nurturing their spiritual, emotional, psychological, physical, and academic abilities. Leading with this, and driven by our strategic initiative on student wellness, we are called to find alternative methods and messages that will encourage more balance and produce happier individuals on both of our campuses. 

At Chaminade, we see so many students every day who are motivated and diligent. They enroll in honors and advanced placement courses and achieve high grades and test scores. They play sports, participate in theater and music programs, and serve as community volunteers and school leaders. They “do everything and do it well.”  But recent research shows that many of these same outstanding students often feel conflicted between taking care of their health and wellness and spending enough hours studying for the SAT. They worry they will be penalized if they are somehow not sacrificing enough to earn a certain letter grade or get into a certain college. This mindset and quest for supposed perfection lead to an academic culture that demands levels of achievement from students that lead to sleep deprivation, burnout, and depression.  From 2009-2017, depression among 14 to17 year-olds increased by more than 60% and by 47% among 12 to 13 year-olds. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10-24.   (Source:  Journal of Abnormal Psychology)

In the last decade, the revolution to encourage a different way of thinking and challenge the way we define student success has been taking place. Julie will address how we can all become instruments of change and better help prepare our students for the real world – its challenges, its twists and turns, and its lessons – all with the same love and care we aspire to provide. While empathizing with the parental hopes and, especially, fears that lead to over helping, Julie inspires audiences to examine their behaviors and join the growing movement to allow students to develop resilience, be true to themselves, and follow Chaminade’s mission – to love, learn, and lead. 

Julie is the recipient of Stanford University’s Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award for creating “the” atmosphere that defines the undergraduate experience. Her book, How to Raise an Adult, has been published in over two dozen countries and gave rise to a TED talk that became one of the top TED Talks of 2016 with over four million views, and counting, as well as a sequel which will be out this year. Julie received her Bachelor’s degree at Stanford University, her law degree at Harvard Law School, and her MFA in writing from the California College of the Arts.

Chaminade celebrates Julie Lythcott-Haims and the common sense wisdom she relays in her writing and speaking. She is part of a revolution that we embrace for the well-being of our students and our school community, and we invite you all to be a part of it.  

RSVP for this event by March 17 at bit.ly/WellnessSpeaker2020

Please feel free to bring your copy of Julie’s book(s) to join in the book-signing event that will follow her talk. We will also make a limited amount of books available for purchase that evening.

We look forward to sharing this special presentation with you.