Ship Day, named for the facility in which it is held — The Shipley Center for Athletics, Health and Wellness — is a day of respite from classes and a chance for students to focus on health and wellness issues. Organized by the Health and Wellness Committee, Ship Day has been going strong for the past 10 years. The day, which takes on tough topics that are not usually covered in class, is broken up into three parts. Most of the topics are presented by outside speakers, counselors and experts in their field.
Be in the Shipley gym at 9 a.m. to get a good seat to see Coco Beaux! Connecticut College’s all male acapella group starts the day with a bang. Their performance always is greeted by a standing ovation and hopes of an encore. They are then kind enough to meet with the girls for a few minutes after taking selfies and signing autographs.
We then move on to the more serious part of the day, covering topics such as alcohol and drug abuse, resilience, mental health, and healthy relationships. Chris Herren, a former NBA player, recovering addict and a motivational speaker, was our guest in 2015. Through the organization he founded, the nonprofit Herren Project, Chris and his team empower schools and communities to make healthy choices, while also guiding families through recovery. In 2016, Dr. Michael Fowlin, a psychologist, performer, and poet who uses his unique talents as a professional actor to promote worldwide inclusion, was our distinguished guest. Dr. Fowlin spoke about biases, bullying and pain that many people struggle with but hide behind the mask of wanting to fit in. 2017 brought us “close to home.” Mary Dunne, mother of Lauren Dunne Astley and the Lauren Dunne Astley Foundation, together with the OneLove Foundation presented a movie called Escalation. Mary’s daughter Lauren, a close friend of alumnae Maggie Maloney ’12 and Lucy Maloney ’14, was murdered at the hands of her boyfriend. They presented Escalation and debriefed with students about the signs and symptoms of healthy vs. unhealthy relationships.
The afternoon activities are usually of a lighter fare. The Boston Improv Asylum troupe have been regular performers. They entertain us with school-specific jokes and comedy improv that are always good for a belly laugh. Blue and White competitions have also been popular counter-programming to the morning’s heavier topics. Old fashioned games such as the three-legged race, balloon toss and musical chairs are fun ways to wins points for your team. Tommy Vee, hypnotist extraordinaire, is also a very popular Ship Day visitor. Girls anxiously await their turn to be called on stage. With his unique style of stage hypnosis, the students become the real stars of the show.
We are excited that Ship Day 2019 brings back Jen Schultz, former faculty member and Spaulding Rehabilitation patient, and a panel of alumnae —Neha Sahni Gaur ’04, Molly Hentz ’09, Tania DeBarros ’07 and Caroline Lyons ’12. This year’s theme is resilience. Our guests will share their stories of living with diabetes, perfectionism, depression and suicidality. Candace Taylor ’09 from 305 Fitness will end the day with a dance party, and of course it all starts with Coco Beaux at 9 a.m sharp. For the first time we welcome the Middle School to join us. Formerly the Middle School students were taking ERBs, but with a schedule change, they will have their own version of Ship Day and join the Upper School for the morning session.