Coloring, stress fidgets and kinetic sand galore: here’s what you should know about Eagle Escape


Ria Kohli

Students can come to the Eagle Escape room in P-16 to take care of themselves with comforting activities, counselors and more.

Eagle Escape is a wellness center for Los Altos High School students located in room P-16. A similar space will also be available in the new Student Services building starting next year.

Eagle Escape and other mental health programs at LAHS are largely the result of a movement for increased mental health spaces in Santa Clara County schools. The movement has called for more diverse kinds of wellness spaces for students, from universal support for students to highly-specialized care for students who need it. 

Eagle Escape mainly aims to do the former — to support everyone, no matter their needs. It provides students with a variety of self-directed wellness stations, including coloring, origami, clay, kinetic sand, puzzles and more. Supervisors are also present for students who need additional help. 

“Even students who feel like they aren’t currently struggling with mental health issues can absolutely benefit from the space,” lead therapist Makenzie Gallego said. “We have to remember that wellness takes skill. The goal of Eagle Escape is to be a space for students to learn these skills.” 

This effort is led both by staff and by students — for example, sophomore Simona Choi helped to create Eagle Escape. Simona and Gallego visited wellness centers at other schools and took pictures and notes to document the spaces. The two then had meetings about what they wanted to implement at LAHS. Simona said that Eagle Escape does a great job at letting students get help while relieving some of the pressure of doing so. 

“When I started counseling, it was very scary to talk to someone and just dump all my issues on the table,” Simona said. “It’s nice to warm yourself up to the idea of actually seeking help through a space like the Wellness Center.”

Currently, Eagle Escape is only open during periods five, six and seven. However, even if students don’t have a free period during those times, they are welcome to go to Eagle Escape for a short amount of time during class. After 15 minutes, if students still aren’t feeling like they have successfully regulated their emotions, they can be connected to other mental health support systems on-campus like counseling.

“Sometimes there’s just something going on, which can make it really hard to be in class,” Gallego said. “Eagle Escape is a safe supervised space for students to emotionally regulate before returning to class.”

“Students often need that space to just chill and relax, without having the pressure to talk to someone about it,” Eagle Escape supervisor Guadalupe Garcia said. 

Gallego hopes the steps taken toward mindfulness in Eagle Escape will eventually influence the entire LAHS community. 

“I want the wellness center to be a space that gradually welcomes more and more students in, where conversations about what taking care of ourselves looks like can start and hopefully become more prevalent in our culture,” Gallego said.