Saher Ahmed | Staff Writer
Kaelyn Rodrigues | Staff Writer

Breathe in, breathe out.

Eighth grade girls are getting their daily dose of stress relief in Empower, one of the newest classes added to the list of academic elective options at Mason Middle School. Empower is a class taught by Stephanie Brittingham offered to eighth grade girls, and it is meant to involve them in physical activities as well as self reflection through yoga, daily journaling, and group discussions.

Instructor Stephanie Brittingham said that her personal struggles and stresses can relate back to her students.

“In my personal life, having to work and raise two little kids, I started to think, ‘I don’t have any ‘me’ time, I don’t have any time to just reflect,’” Brittingham said. “It kind of got me thinking about students, and how they don’t have any me time. They go in and take seven classes a day, and it’s all school, school, school.”

Eighth grader Jordan Lamm says she enjoys having time to connect with other girls.

“What I like most about empower is that we can all relate to each other,” Lamm said. “We talk a lot about what it’s like to be a girl in today’s society and how we all need to build each other up.”

Brittingham said that she created Empower because girls seem to be less involved in physical education at school than boys.

“I know that the numbers in physical education for eighth grade for females are really low,” Brittingham said. “I started to think about how it would be really neat to just expose eighth grade girls to all different types of exercises, (and) on top of that just discuss different topics that were important as a group of females.”

Eighth grader Anna McNulty says she took Empower to escape the intimidation that occurred in regular gym class.

“In past years, most of the bullying (has occurred) during gym class, and Empower offers a structured workout routine, as well as different forms of exercise,” McNulty said. “It is nice to do it with other people who support you, and enjoy it.”

Brittingham said Empower will help students to deal with their stress.

“I think the most important way that it well help them prepare is by increasing their confidence, and having some tools that they might need in order to be successful in the classroom,” Brittingham said. “They might learn to manage their time better (and) manage stress better.”

Eighth grader Yamha Sami said activites in the Empower class has helped her to relieve her stress.

“I didn’t think anything would happen to help me in the beginning,” Sami said. “But doing yoga and letting my feelings out (in) a personal journal was actually very stress-relieving.”

Overall, Sami said she would take the class again if she could.

“It is really fun, and it doesn’t seem much like a class,” Sami said. “More like a comfortable environment with all (of) my friends.”

McNulty said she would also take Empower again and she recommends the class to others.

“I think I would take Empower again, because next time around, I will know where my voice is, and I will be less afraid to use it,” McNulty said. “It would help those who still need to find their voice to do so, and I deeply encourage them to take this class, and use it to embrace that voice, because there isn’t another one like it.”