MJ’s Happy Haven

On January 25, 2019, eighth-grader Michael Martin died of suicide. During the months before the tragedy, Martin was bullied at school and on his school bus.

What some people think Michael needed from the school were more support and resources. Three of Michael’s closest friends; Colleen Pender, Davarry Stewart, Niko Pehlivanoglu and Michael’s mom, Joanna Wohlfert, are working with Everett’s administration to do just that, put a primarily student-run room in memory of Michael in the counseling center.

This room will be a resource for students if they need a quiet place to work, if they are in a crisis, or if they just need a break from the chaos of school. It will be called ‘MJ’s Happy Haven’.

Everett has a very diverse student body with strong opinions and feelings. Michael’s death affected many people, especially his close friends. Lots of these students have good feelings about the room, too.

“Some students have nowhere to go in a public building where they can feel comfortable and I feel that room will be a good place for them,” said freshman Davarry Stewart.

Davarry was a very good friend of Michael’s. So was Niko Pehlivanoglu, another freshman that attends Everett. Niko and Davarry have been friends with Michael since their first year at Everett when they were in 7th grade.

“I think school can be a pretty stressful place at times, and some students may be going through something every day and they may need a place where they can release their stress,” said Pehlivanoglu.

Many teachers that are concerned about students’ mental health like the idea of the room because it will be a space that is solely focused on students’ mental health.

“It [the room] is a great idea to create more space for students’ emotional wellness,” said social studies teacher Aaron Bales.

Bales was Michael’s 7th-grade social studies teacher.

“I would encourage current students to take advantage of any available resource that could help them,” said Bales.

Certain staff members also agree that this space will be a good thing for Everett since students don’t have many places to relax in without an adult hovering around them or other students disrupting them.

“In a building as full as ours, space is at a premium, so finding a good location would be a big accomplishment,” said Bales.

Michael was known by many people for being very social. He had many friends and people that knew him have said that he was very likable. One of those people is his mother, Joanna Wolhlfert. She says that the room is an important thing to happen at Everett because it will help impact students’ lives positively and Michael would not have wanted to see any more pain.

“I believe this is very important, and I know Michael loved everybody and does not want to see anyone hurting,” said Wolhlfert.

Wolhlfert said she loves that the group of Michael’s friends is trying to help make a change at Everett in honor of her son. She believes the room will help students at Everett to process their feelings before acting on them.

“I think the idea of this room is amazing; I think this will give you young adults an opportunity to first sit and think about whatever it is going on and decide a better way to respond,” said Wolhlfert.

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