Jude Binkley staff writer
Many students have become familiar with Norman Aid through the numerous events that they have hosted throughout the year. The person behind these events is counselor Ali Norman-Franks, who has spent the last 12 years working on growing Norman Aid into what it is today.
“Norman Aid wasn’t as big as it has been [this year],” Norman-Franks said. “Before, when we started [12 years ago], I was in one little room for two years and then I moved into a center.”
Norman-Franks has planned all of the new activities that have launched this year, one of the most popular being monthly aid services.
“Every month we have a different mental health topic that we are focusing on, and the goal of that is to provide education support and resources to students and also to staff,” Norman-Franks said.
By promoting these events through flyers, resource tables and Jupiter emails, Norman Aid has been able to reach more students. One of the most popular was last month’s de-stress theme.
“Last month’s de-stress month was a really popular one, especially our stress-less week, having the puppies and bunnies,” Norman-Franks said. “I think students love the idea of being able to come to school in their pajamas and relax, and know that staff recognizes how hard they are working and is trying to provide services that make them feel more calm.”
Norman Aid has also been putting on events for parents and staff, such as October’s reality party, which was aimed at showing parents what can happen at high school parties.
She has been looking ahead to the monthly topics that Norman Aid will cover this semester. February’s monthly aid will focus on healthy relationships.
“We are going to break the month up into five categories: so love is communication is one week, love is safety, love is love–we will focus on the LGBTQ community–love is respect, and love is friendship,” Norman-Franks said. “We will have different activities as well as education around those topics. For example, for the Love is Respect week, we have a speaker that is going to come and do a presentation for all freshman during their PE class. For the Love is Love we are going to have an activity for LGBT students and allies and staff to come and they can create their own flags, and on Valentine’s Day we are going to hang the flags throughout the school. I feel like we are doing some activities that we haven’t normally done as a school.”
Norman-Franks has seen Norman Aid have a positive effect on the Beverly community as the program continues to grow and bring more opportunities to give assistance to students and their families.
“We’ve allowed students to see that there are so many topics that we can talk about in here, whether it’s a friendship issue or it’s just stress about a class,” Norman Franks said. “Especially this year, we’ve always had a positive effect, but I’m seeing more and more students coming in to Norman Aid, I think we’ve normalized mental health.”