Skip to main content
Rural Health Information Hub

Clintonville High School

  • Project Title: Sources of Strength
  • Program Representative Interviewed: Carey Meyer and Becky Schoenike
  • Location: Clintonville, Wisconsin
  • Program Overview: Clintonville High School implemented the evidence-based Sources of Strength program to address suicide risk factors among students, including lack of relationships with trusted adults and low levels of connection and belonging to the school community. The school's goals were to change the overall school climate around mental health and wellness, draw on student strengths, increase engagement in school, and create connections to teachers and other school staff. To achieve these goals, they implemented student-led activities such as the “What Helps Me” campaign. In this campaign, students described the strengths they draw on to deal with emotions of anger, anxiety, and depression using feathers that were ultimately displayed together to create an entire “wingspan” of strengths.

    The Clintonville Sources of Strength program has 51 active peer leaders in a school of 400 students. Clintonville credits the success of the program to drawing upon student strengths, providing guidance to students who take on leadership roles, and being flexible so more students can participate with minimal stress. They introduced a middle school version of the program so students entering high school are already familiar and engaged with the program. Most importantly, they ensure Sources of Strength is fun and engaging for the students to support effective learning.

    Clintonville also credits their partnership with Theda Care, a local medical system in Wisconsin, for the success of their program. Theda Care invested in training for their staff to deliver Sources of Strength training to schools in the area, helping to cover some of the costs for schools. They also check in with schools and serve as a resource. Theda Care is investing in their communities by helping schools provide this mental health resource for youth.

    Through their success, Clintonville has also experienced challenges implementing Sources of Strength. These challenges have included limited time to engage with students during the school day, transportation issues, conflicts with after school jobs, time constraints with engaging teachers as adult advisors, and less active engagement with parents who are involved in shift work. Being flexible has helped to minimize these challenges.

    A major benefit of the Sources of Strength program, described by Clintonville High School, is that the program can reach outside of the school walls and into the community. For example, Clintonville students included a Sources of Strength float in the homecoming parade to bring the program's message to the larger community. The school continues to explore potential community benefits of the program and is seeking to “create a common language that illuminates the happier parts of life for students, parents, and school staff.”

Models represented by this program: