Central Campus is busy — with 1,000 students and 150 staff members.

You can see how it would be possible to get lost in the shuffle.

A program called Sources of Strength is helping to make sure no one falls through the cracks. Started a couple of years ago, the program is helping forge positive connections, build relationships and ultimately impact the overall wellbeing of students.

Jennifer Harbaugh is the program director and Minot Education Association member.

We are in a building where education comes first. But at the same time, a student’s mental health and emotional health, as well as their physical health, are also ranked up there with like how important their education is. And if people can just realize that when you put all of that together as a whole, then I think you have a more successful student.”

This is the Sources of Strength wheel. Each slice of the pie represents a strength like positive friends and family support.

Every month the group meets at Central they try and get students to look at something positive in their lives. Or if they need help, point them toward where they can get it.

“I think here at Central Campus, we have a lot of students coming and going with the Air Force base here and many students moving in because of job opportunities for their families, said Kristina Byer. “It’s really, really hard to meet new people at a high school level. You’re in class for 50 minutes and you move from class to class. So I think building those connections is very, very important in high school. And I think sources of strength has been able to let students know that they are wanted here. They’re part of this community and they can form these connections with student and staff.”

Sources of Strength — and the activities surrounding it — have provided a safe environment for students to come out of their shell.

“I was very shy at the beginning of the year. I kind of just like stick to myself. And I found other people who stuck to themselves, which isn’t a bad thing,” said Willow Green. “But joining sources of strength has certainly made me come out of my shell a little bit more. I am more confident talking in front of a bunch of people. I’m more confident going up to someone new and just being like, hey, I want to be friends and just be more open.”

I really like it because it shows how we can do things in the community and during our school district, said Kayla Prestwich. “And it’s for the main focus is for making others feel included and helping them through things that they may not want to talk about with everybody. But we have activities that we do that include everybody.”

Ultimately, principal Harlan Johnson says if it makes a difference for one student — the program is worth it.

You know, I mean, it was based as a suicide prevention program right away, but now it’s really morphed. And, you know, I could talk about the source of strength, will those different activities and that mindfulness and health part with that, so that kids really kind of have that whole wellbeing, the whole circle on everything, so that they really feel that they’re a part of something within our building.

  • This story was produced as part of a series spotlighting behavioral health programs in K-12 schools across North Dakota. Video was shot pre-pandemic, and before face masks and social distancing measures were implemented. If you have a story to tell about how your school is supporting students’ social and emotional needs, please contact ND United Director of Public Affairs Tom Gerhardt at tom.gerhardt@ndunited.org