Three cell phone icons

On Thursday, May 26, CVA students will have the option to go cellphone-free for a day to raise money for their classes and to heighten awareness for mental health.

Participating students will ask friends and family to pledge a contribution in any amount.   All money raised by each student will go that student's class—freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior.

Organizers have added a twist to encourage a little friendly competition. Members of the class with the most participation will have their names entered to win a chance to pie Mr. Keeler (and other faculty and staff volunteers) at a ninth period Pep Rally on the last day of school.

What's the catch? In exchange for the support, students will go without their cellphones for an entire school day. They will turn in their cellphones to their first period teacher and will not be able to pick them up until the end of ninth period.

More than just a class fundraiser

Cellphone-free day is more than a class fundraiser. Amidst the fun and competition, the goal is raise school and community awareness about mental health.  On Monday, May 16, the CVA Guidance Department shared research that highlight teens' growing dependence on their cellphones:

  • Recent research from the University of Arizona showed that adolescents who were dependent on or addicted to their smartphone were more likely to show signs of depression and loneliness. 
  • A 2018 survey sponsored by Hopelab and Well Being Trust showed that teens and young adults (14- to 22-years-old) had mixed feelings about social media use. Respondents who had symptoms of moderate to severe depression said they were more likely to feel left out when they use social media, or think that others are doing better than they are.
  • Evidence from a variety of studies implicate smartphone and social media use in the increase in mental distress and self-injurious behavior among youth.
  • Social media can affect adolescents’ self-view and interpersonal relationships through social comparison and negative interactions, including cyberbullying.
  • High proportions of youth engage in heavy smartphone use and media multitasking, which results in chronic sleep deprivation, and negative effects on cognitive control, academic performance and socioemotional functioning.

Breaking the chains

Experts acknowledge the importance of cellphones in our culture, but offer simple ideas that can lessen our reliance:

  • Filter who you follow.
  • Limit your phone time.
  • Acknowledge when it's time to take a break.
  • Set boundaries.

Cellphone-free day is a chance to step away from phones—if only for a day.

"Our world is so used to constant and instant access through cellphones that giving them up for just seven hours may be hard for some students," said Jane Connors, a physical education teacher and co-advisor of the CVA Athletic Leadership Council who is organizing the day.

Fellow physical education teacher and club co-advisor Jonna Costin said the difficultly may not be limited to the students.

"As parents, we are accustomed to reaching our children 24-7 via cellphones," she said.

"The idea of not being able to send a quick text might be equally hard for moms and dads."

The co-advisors assure parents they can still reach their students during the day by calling the CVA office at 315-895-7471. Staff will forward important messages or have the student come to the office and call a parent on the school phone.

Athletic Leadership Council steps up

The competition is the brainchild of the CVA Athletic Leadership Council and co-advisors Mrs. Costin and Mrs. Connors. The group is part of a statewide program that trains student athletes  to take the leadership skill they learn in sports and apply them off the field or court.

"Our members visited Fayetteville Manlius Central School to see how they run their chapter. We got some great ideas for getting our program off the ground," said Mrs. Connors.

"Next year we hope to complete an online course sponsored by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association."

"Our members are learning that the lessons of leadership and teamwork are bigger than sports. They have a responsibility to model and share those lessons throughout the school day."

Students will receive a Cellphone-free sponsorship sheet (download one here) on May 18 to get started. Anyone with questions should contact Jane Connors ( or Jonna Costin ( or call the CVA main office at 315-895-7471.