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Baldwinsville schools to host mental health webinar Dec. 7

By Ashley M. Casey,


BALDWINSVILLE — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, parents, it is more important than ever to teach children and families how to cope with stress, anxiety and mental health issues.

The Baldwinsville Central School District Mental Wellness Committee is hoping to help B’ville families do just that with its Dec. 7 webinar and panel discussion, “Raising Resilient Youth.”

Karrie LaMacchia, BCSD’s director of pupil and personnel services, said “Raising Resilient Youth” is the latest in a series of virtual sessions focused on social-emotional learning. Previously, the district held screenings of the IndieFlix trilogy “Angst,” “LIKE” and “The Upstanders,” a trio of films that dealt with anxiety, social media and bullying, respectively.

While the pandemic shut down in-person events for the BCSD Mental Wellness Committee, LaMacchia said “Angst” drew a record number of attendees. The committee realized virtual events could reach a wider audience, especially if the recordings are made available for district families to watch later.

“You feel sad that you’re losing out on the in-person stuff, but attendance is higher than it’s ever been,” LaMacchia said.

The transition from remote learning in 2020 to in-person classes has been difficult for many young Bees, LaMacchia said.

“We’re seeing a lot of social anxiety [in] kids that are struggling with coming back to school,” she said.

Stamina has been an issue for many students this school year, as they had been accustomed to the more flexible remote or hybrid schedules.

“They didn’t love being remote, but they’re having trouble adjusting and getting into a routine,” LaMacchia said. “We’re pretending we’re back to normal. COVID is still very real.”

Parents are struggling, too. Looming large in the minds of B’ville parents are financial issues, holiday stress and getting kids back on track after relaxing some of the rules during lockdown.

The panelists of Raising Resilient Youth are aiming to bridge the gap between parents and students.

“One of the things our kids say a lot is their parents don’t know how to talk to them about anxiety,” LaMacchia said.

The keynote speaker for the webinar is Dr. Kevin Antshel, professor and director of the clinical psychology doctoral program at Syracuse University. Antshel is board-certified in child and adolescent psychology. LaMacchia said Antshel will discuss trends of anxiety and stress in children — which were already on the rise before COVID — and how to identify when a student is struggling outside the typical emotional ups and downs of the teen years.

“How do you know the difference as a parent between what’s normal adolescence and when to seek help?” LaMacchia said.

Joining Antshel on the panel are licensed mental health counselor and BCSD parent Steve Drapeau, McNamara Elementary Principal Jennifer Homeyer and Baker sophomore Jillian Kilts. The discussion will be moderated by BCSD Superintendent Jason Thomson.

LaMacchia said she and her family are not immune to the stresses of the pandemic. Her young daughter recently had to quarantine because of a possible COVID exposure.

“We were going to see ‘Clifford,’ so it was like the end of the world that she couldn’t go to the movies,” she said. “We’re normal— we struggle just like everybody else.”

Balancing school, church, dance and pandemic stress has been a challenge. LaMacchia said she reserves at least one day each week to relax — no plans, no activities, nothing but family time— and often checks in with her daughter to see if she’s feeling burnt out. The family maximizes their leisure time outdoors and enjoys cooking together.

The Mental Wellness Committee is trying to “use this adversity to foster and raise resilient kids,” LaMacchia said of the upside of the pandemic.

“We can do hard things and get through hard times,” she said. “Kids can’t learn if they don’t feel safe or if they’re not in a place where they feel a sense of belonging.”

The Baldwinsville Central School District Mental Wellness Committee’s Raising Resilient Youth Community Event takes place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 7. Visit to join the Zoom webinar. The program’s Zoom ID is 974 0076 7907 and the passcode is 626196. The discussion can also be accessed by dialing +1-646-876-9923 from a telephone.

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