Westminster pilot program to replace traffic agents with mental health professionals


Pictured: a metaphorical sad traffic light.

If you are a Westminster student, you are probably aware not only of the stress created by having to keep up with the rigorous school curriculum but also the kind induced by the morning carpool traffic. Every morning, droves of cars and their frustrated drivers sipping their boba tea wait impatiently for the traffic officers’ frantic and confusing hand signals to allow them to finally get ahead of that jerk who cut them off earlier. Yet, despite the officers’ efforts and good intentions, school traffic continues to be a problem, leading to unprecedented stress levels in the Westminster community. 

“It takes me a whole 15 minutes to get from bed to class,” said a frustrated sophomore who just started driving last month. “I live, like, three minutes from school. It’s honestly unbelievable. I can’t deal with this every morning! Where’s my Venti latte?” 

To address student and parental concerns, the Westminster administration implemented a new pilot program meant to improve traffic conditions at the main gate while simultaneously reducing the stress levels for the drivers.  

“We understand the incredible amount of psychological damage having to wait 5-10 minutes to enter the school inflicts upon our students and their families,” said an anonymous administrator. “So we partnered with this young company, Totally Mental (Health), to address this very issue. I think everybody will be very pleased.”

The company’s plan is simple yet ingenious. The Totally Mental (Health) program will replace the police officers traditionally positioned at the school entrance with trained mental health professionals. Instead of using frantic hand gestures and piercing whistle sounds to direct traffic, the psychologists will use gentle arm waving while simultaneously playing soothing recorder music. 

“All of our psychologists have to learn how to play the recorder,” said company director and chief psychologist Shaw Yastress. “Everybody is required to take a minimum of 10 hours of music classes and must successfully tackle challenging pieces like ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb,’ ‘Hot Cross Buns,’ and of course the classic, ‘Baby Shark.’” 

In addition to being greeted with live music and gentleness, stressed drivers will also be invited to practice positive thinking and serenity. To assist with the process, designated psych majors equipped with trays of cupcakes will weave through parked traffic, ready to address all potential concerns immediately.

            “Feeling frustrated? All you need to do is wave, and bam! We’ll bring you a cupcake. Or if you don’t like cupcakes, we can bring coloring books and pencils or just send you an uplifting emoji,” Yastress said. “Problem solved!”

            But positivity and the reward system are not the only things implemented by the program. Unacceptable behaviors like horn honking and flying through speed bumps will be recorded, and repeat offenders will be randomly selected for one-on-one sessions to investigate the reasons behind such behavior.

“We feel like we would need to explore those repressed feelings,” the youngest member of the counseling team said. “I mean, if you prefer honking to cupcakes, crayons, or uplifting emojis, you definitely need all the help you can get.”

Only two weeks after launching the Totally Mental (Health) program, a schoolwide survey answered by an impressive number of 50 people showed a dramatic improvement in mental health, in addition to reduced stress levels. 

“Having mental health professionals direct the morning traffic makes all the difference in the world,” a formerly stressed junior said. “My usual six-hour daily homework doesn’t seem so challenging anymore!”

Some students also reported improvement in sleep quality and duration.

“I got a full two hours of sleep last night. In my bed, not at my desk! I haven’t slept in my bed since elementary school. I didn’t even realize I still had my Dora the Explorer sheets!” an anonymous sophomore said.

While some students, parents, and faculty positively received the new initiative, not everybody enjoyed the new measures.

“I just can’t imagine doing this thing every day,” said a frustrated grandmother who accidentally honked her horn once. “I just wanted to drop off my grandson and leave. I can’t deal with any more of the stupid flute playing and talking about feelings every morning! I’ve already missed several episodes of The Young and the Restless!”

Despite minor inconveniences, Yastress and the Westminster administration feel that the program will continue to improve the staff and student overall well-being. According to Yastress, previous polls showed that the program reduced morning stress by 45 percent and improved the drivers’ mood by 38 percent. Other areas also showed promising results.

“We implemented it at another private school just down the road a month ago, and the results were amazing,” Yastress said. “Not only did we reduce stress, but we simultaneously improved pre-ACT scores by five points. Just four weeks into the program, they all love it. Get it? They LOVE-IT.”

The Westminster Totally Mental (Health) pilot program will end on May 1, after a six-week trial. The program is expected to return next school year, before the first fall SAT and ACT assessments.


Note: This article, like all of our articles in the April Fool’s edition, is satire. Laugh.