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Students from Kalon Prep Academy in Alexandria March for Mental Health.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

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Kalon Prep Academy students and staff hold up handmade signs with positive messages as they walk to spread awareness about mental health on Monday, May 9, 2022.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press
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ALEXANDRIA — Students and faculty members from Alexandria's Kalon Prep Academy held up construction paper signs and marched north along Broadway in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month on Monday, May 9.

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Forty or so participants from Kalon Prep Academy stand with signs about mental health across from Midway Mall.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

Forty to 45 students from grades 9th through 12th and a few faculty members began the walk around 12:30 p.m. at the Burger King parking lot located at the northeast corner of Broadway and 30th Avenue, following a tour of the Alexandria Technical and Community College. They headed north along Broadway on the newly constructed sidewalk and crossed west on 22nd Avenue toward Aga Drive and north toward Kalon Prep Academy.

Some of the students and staff held up signs with messages like, "You can't tell just by looking at someone what they are going through," "It's okay to not be okay," and "Care about your mind."

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Students walk northbound along Broadway toward Kalon Prep Academy.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

Kayla Hoelscher, the social emotional learning interventionist at Kalon, said the schools wanted to find a way to honor and celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month.

"Mental health is a real thing here at Kalon," said Hoelscher.

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Students began their journey by walking north along Broadway from the Burger King parking lot, crossing 22nd Avenue West toward Aga Drive and continuing to Kalon Prep Academy.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

One student metaphorically described struggling with mental health as "sunny during the day and thunderstorms at night."

Organizers of the walk contemplated postponing the trek due to Monday's gloomy weather. Still, they decided to march anyway as it seemed fitting for the theme of maintaining mental health, according to Hoelscher.

"Life isn't always sunshine and rainbows," said Hoelscher.

However, they did allow some of the students to opt-out if they didn't feel comfortable walking in the weather conditions.

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Kalon Prep Academy Students hold up handmade signs with written messages to spread awareness about mental health.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

"This Mental Health Walk is important to help spread awareness and end the stigma and shame surrounding mental health. Mental health is real, and it matters. It also impacts so many. I hope this march will empower our students and help start conversations, so no one has to suffer in secret," said Hoelscher.

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and Kalon Pep Academy students decided to spread awareness by marching.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

Thalen Zimmerman of Alexandria joined the Echo Press team as a full-time reporter in Aug. 2021, after graduating from Bemidji State University with a bachelor of science degree in mass communication in May of 2021.
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A new episode is released every Tuesday and Thursday, giving readers a brief look at the stories found in Wednesday's and Friday's papers.
A new episode is released every Tuesday and Thursday, giving readers a brief look at the stories found in Wednesday's and Friday's papers.
A new episode is released every Tuesday and Thursday, giving readers a brief look at the stories found in Wednesday's and Friday's papers.
The event drew close to 800 participants.