A sampling of works from Falmouth High School’s spring Sources of Strength exhibit. Contributed / Lisa Joy

Falmouth students tap sources of strength

What can stand against the darkest downs of life, ebb the floodtides of despair and turn hope into health? In 1998, Mark Lomurray began harnessing the power of resiliency he’d seen as a young social worker in rural communities and among Northern Plains tribes. Today, his Sources of Strength program is a recognized gold standard for suicide prevention and related issues. It’s widely used in schools, universities, detention centers, the military and community organizations.

Robin Haley, Falmouth High School’s substance abuse prevention coordinator, introduced an SoS training for students and faculty in spring 2021 to help navigate through COVID-19.

“This year was equally, if not more, challenging,” she said, and noted the alignment between SoS and the youth-driven Yellow Tulips suicide prevention program that a group of students implemented in 2020.

“The programs complement each other,” she said, “the difference being that SoS includes staff directly and ways to create everyday opportunities through conversation and language in class curricula.”

The training inspired five art, music and theater teachers to form a learning team and introduce roughly 60 students to SoS concepts and small group activities. This past spring semester, students worked on projects individually or in pairs, culminating in a SoS performance arts event in conjunction with the Spring Concert.

“We had a lot of creative freedom,” said sophomore and advanced art student Spencer Furze. “We all got something out of it because we all put a lot of effort into it.”


Quinn Hagerty noted how inherently personal it was to draw what he wanted and pick his own materials. Although Hagerty got the most out of the technical aspects of the project, he said the process also prompted personal reflection.

“There was a lot of looking inward and thinking, ‘What do I really appreciate?’ and taking stock of that. It was therapeutic in a way.”

Furze’s two self-depictions as a possum interacting with animals contrasted the struggle of being brought down by certain people with the sources of strength that his six close friends represent.

Both Furze and Hagerty said they enjoyed the communal atmosphere in the art room.

“I got to ask my friends what their pieces meant to them,” Furze said, “so I learned about their struggles and strengths.”

“The friendships that everyone developed working on their pieces in close proximity were really strong,” Hagerty said.


Elena Parr, who just graduated, worked closely with a new musician friend.

“My sources of strength are friendships,” she said. “Making this new friend reminded me of how friendships evolve, what they mean and how they’ve helped me through life, and so my artwork was based off that. It was very therapeutic and brought us closer together.”

Her new friend co-wrote the song with Parr, contributed lyrics, helped with the melody and created the two pieces of art that were required.

In the struggle, her friend is depicted with dark vines of anxiety and depression squeezing her neck and shoulders.

“Behind her are overlapping thoughts and pictures that went through our minds while we were both in very dark places,” she said, “to give the sense of chaos you get.”

The second piece memorialized the friendship with everything they love depicted in bright colors. The song’s three parts first described a slowly worsening progression of mental health, the paralysis that results and finally asking for and getting help.


“It led to this big climax that ‘We’re going to be OK,’” Parr said.

“From an adult or teaching perspective, after reading some of their reflections, I might see a more effective way of working with them after learning about their experiences and what they’ve shared through their art,” Haley said.

“The hope is to continue tying in other departments,” she said, adding that it’s a long-term goal for all high school students and faculty to go through the training.

Lisa Joy is a member of the Falmouth Community Wellness Committee.

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