Cool School: Capitola middle school students learn 'healthy living'

It’s one of the most popular classes at Capitola’s New Brighton Middle School.  It’s a class where the books stay inside backpacks and students are encouraged to engage and explore.

"I’ve noticed that whenever I’m having a bad day or in a bad mood I come into this class and write in my gratitude log. It lightens everything up," said one student.

Welcome to Andy Shapiro’s Healthy Living Class where seventh and eighth-grade students tackle tough topics like homework, expectations, peer pressure and body image.  

No iPhones or tablets, but rather a healthy conversation about the pressures of being a teenager.   

"I saw a lot of students who are struggling with either physical or mental, emotional health, and I thought would be a great opportunity for them to reduce stress and develop life skills and have a good time in the process," said Shapiro.

Shapiro has created a community where students are comfortable and vulnerable to speak freely.

"If you love yourself it doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks. Know in your heart that you are good enough," said another student.


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"This class is like a community to me.  When we walk into class we all see each other, and we’re all super happy to be here. It feels like a safe environment," said seventh-grader Kassidy Seibert.

"It’s very calming.  No one makes fun of you by judging you for being who you are," added Victor Saludes.

It’s not all talk either. The class cultivates its own garden, performs yoga, and whips up healthy meals weekly.

Each Wednesday they also take a half-mile walk and hike down Monterey Avenue to Capitola Beach to take in the Pacific and all its glory.

"So the time we take those walks we have the opportunity to have conversations with each other and then that carries over into what they do in the classroom. It helps to forge these bonds that are very powerful in building trust and a sense of community," said Shapiro.

The class is so popular this fall there is a waiting list to get in.