This teacher found a perfect way to relieve her students' testing fears.

We all remember testing season right?

I certainly do. Right around April, you start to realize that the standardized tests, finals, and readiness exams you've been hearing about all year are actual real things that are actually going to happen.

All the pressure starts to bear down on your shoulders like so many textbooks in your backpack.


Plus, remember how hard it was just to pick a backpack? Photo by Denis Charlet/AFP/Getty Images.

If I fail this test, will I fail the class? If I fail the class, will I fail fifth grade? If I fail fifth grade, am I even allowed to be a functioning member of society? Will they just throw me in jail and I'll have to live out the rest of my life eating oatmeal and lifting weights? I guess I could get used to oatmeal, but I thought I would do great things with my life!

HOW CAN THIS HAPPEN TO ME?

Looking back, it might seem silly, but for kids going through it, the pressure is still very real. And adults are starting to listen.

Chandni Langford, who teaches fifth grade at Evergreen Avenue Elementary School in New Jersey, had a pretty cool idea to help ease the pressure.

Recently, she helped her students mentally prepare for a test by writing personalized messages on each of their desks. Messages of encouragement, inspiration, and motivation that, along with two munchkins from Dunkin' Donuts, helped all 19 of them feel a lot better about the exam they were about to take.

Image courtesy of Woodbury City Public Schools.

"They were excited. I think it eased their nerves a bit," Langford told the Huffington Post. "Some of them wanted to keep them on their desks forever."

Image courtesy of Woodbury City Public Schools.

This teacher knows that a little act of encouragement can be as important as any lesson.

“When the kids come [to school] they need to know that even though they’re away from their families at home, there are people here that love and care for them and hope the best for them. And truly, truly believe in them.”

Image courtesy of Woodbury City Public Schools.

Some are fighting back against standardized testing as an institution. Even encouraging their kids to opt out of high-pressure tests.

Historian Diane Ravitch recently created an Opt Out 2016 campaign, arguing that standardized testing provides no valuable information about a student's abilities and are often an unfair tool to evaluate teachers. There are also opinion pieces galore saying that standardized tests are outdated, unfair to students and teachers, and take up too much time in the classroom.

Regardless of your thoughts on the institution of testing, the pressure remains for kids everywhere.

The last thing a kid needs is to think that one test is going to make or break them. If you have a kid who's getting ready for a big test, consider taking a moment to tell them that no matter what happens, they're capable of success. That pass or fail, you believe in them.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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