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Sheep Counters

As the children of lawyers, doctors, and stockbrokers in a well-to-do Connecticut suburb, Greenwich High School students are expected to earn straight A's.

Now some of those Ivy League hopefuls are being hailed for mastering Z's.

Once an easy target for a laugh, the Power Nap Club is 20 members strong and gaining popularity among the school's highly competitive students.

Facing a pressure-cooker of classes, athletics, community service, and work, Greenwich High's 2,445 students aren't simply counting sheep after school on Mondays. They're learning some much-needed stress-relief techniques.

Anton Anderson, an English teacher for 34 years, founded the club in 1998 after he grew tired of running the poetry society.

Using his knowledge of yoga and Transcendental Meditation, Mr. Anderson, 58, leads breathing exercises and plays relaxing music when the club gathers. The lights are turned off. Students hit the floor or slump in desks. Inevitably, someone starts snoring.

But there's no laughing. This is serious snooze business. Twenty minutes later, the students awake refreshed.

Kelly Hannigan and Jenna Goldstein, both 17, pumped life into the dormant group last year. They have T- shirts bearing the school's mascot, a cardinal, wearing a nightcap and the club's slogan: Veni vidi dormivi—I came, I saw, I slept.

As a captain of the girls' swim team, a computer tutor for senior citizens, and a peer mentor, Ms. Hannigan often doesn't get to bed until 11 p.m. Add a 7:30 a.m. school start time and the senior stress of college applications, and the burden can be overwhelming.

"My mom thinks the club's great," Ms. Hannigan said. "She wants to join."

There's only one rule about the Power Nap Club: Don't nod off in Mr. Anderson's class.

"Even when I'm sick," the teacher said, laughing, "I keep them awake."

—Karla Scoon Reid

Vol. 22, Issue 13, Page 3

Published in Print: November 27, 2002, as Take Note

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