Friendly paws provide some relief during finals at Woodlands Academy

Before they could close the book on the first semester of the 2022-23 school year and begin their Christmas/New Year's break, students at Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart faced four days of final exams. While the week of Dec. 12 provided a lot to look forward to when it was over, mixed in was the stress of getting through it that students experience when taking final exams.

Enter Paws for Patrick as one method of relieving that stress a bit at the all-girls high school in Lake Forest. Paws for Patrick, a nonprofit organization that uses therapy animals as a way of providing support to young people, brought Penny, an English Lab, and Piper, a Labradoodle, to interact with Woodlands Academy students for a while on Dec. 14. Needless to say, the girls seized the opportunity to spend some relaxing time with the two dogs while learning about them from their handlers.

In addition to this, a hot chocolate bar during lunch on Dec. 12 was another de-stressing activity planned by the student government group WACOR (Woodlands Academy Council of Representatives) that was well received by students.

Woodlands Academy is an independent Catholic day-and-boarding, college-preparatory school for young women of all faiths in grades nine through 12. It is part of a network of 25 schools in the U.S. and Canada and more than 150 schools in 41 countries on six continents.

Paws for Patrick was created in 2020 to honor the memory of Patrick Roemer, an 18-year-old Lake Forest High School student who took his own life earlier that year after struggling with depression and anxiety through most of his young life. It honors Patrick this way because of the special relationship he had with animals, especially his black Labrador retriever. Patrick's sister Magdelene, a senior at Woodlands Academy this year, helped organize Paws for Patrick.

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