Pressure In School Is A Contributing Factor To The Downward Spiral Of Students

Pressure In School Is A Contributing Factor To The Downward Spiral Of Students

High school culture is way beyond me.

High school, baby. Do you remember the sweet, sweet smell of cafeteria lunch, kids copying homework in the last .5 seconds before turning it in, all the random people you’ve come across crying in bathroom stalls, and many more (that probably include thrashing around to your 6 a.m. alarm every morning)?

I’ve had friends tell me that high school is where they THRIVED. Supportive teachers, unbreakable friend groups and amazing sporting events and spirit rallies; obviously why wouldn’t you deny you had practically a perfect high school experience? I’ve had graduated friends who admitted that high school was one of the worst points of their life...and they don’t like looking back on it.

Jumping from state to state, I experienced completely different schooling methods and atmospheres. Illinois to Pennsylvania to California, my perspective on academics and schooling changed COMPLETELY when I moved to Cupertino, the heart of the Silicon Valley, my sophomore year. I remember family friends back in Pennsylvania who told me that academics were SO much easier in California, and I would ride swiftly through my three years on a cloud.

Then, I sat on my butt in my first class of the year, World History, and thinking; “Well wow. I’m fucked!!!” Through the years, I watched my classmates descend into true madness, panic attacks after tests, sitting through 8 ½ hours of school with a fever because missing the class would be too awful, and overall, a spike in introverted behaviors, anxiety, and depression...which could have been prevented (which CAN be prevented). I’ve had teachers pile work on me before, but not like this. The curriculum was way harder than anywhere I’ve ever experienced, the expectations put on students were incredibly unrealistic, but mostly it was unhealthy because of the insane pressure put on us from parents, teachers, and fellow students. This pressure to achieve unrealistic levels of academic success was what overrode the joys of education and instead made SO many students anxious and depressed.

There is a very real pressure on kids to achieve high levels of academic success. Especially now. Though high schools go about their different ways across the globe, there is essentially no one correct way to facilitate a classroom, nor one clear way to effectively mold students to become successful and good adults. Looking past schooling data, standardized tests, sports achievements, blah, blah, blah, I focused on the ENVIRONMENT of the school, and comparing the systems all the way from Finland to the United States, my point that strain and academic pressure on students will detriment them was verified.

Especially in junior year among the stress of maintaining a perfect GPA, and senior year among the frenzy of college apps and SAT scores, the large majority of conversations with my friends revolved around our stress, anxiety, and lack of motivation surrounding the work we had to do. And THAT was the problem! We had no motivation, and a lot of our jokes consisted of ‘killing ourselves,' dropping out of school and heading to the nearest strip club to hand in our applications. That it is, when you’re overwhelmed with pressure from parents and teachers, overwhelmed with overlapping due dates and four tests in a week to study for, you resort to cramming, procrastinating, and trying to drag ourselves out of an un-motivated rut. It festers up a hate for school.

The educational system is supposed to weave together curriculum and an enjoyable environment in which we can love and appreciate what we’re being taught, instead of looking past the information thrown at us. It should be where we’re GENUINELY interested as to what we’re learning, instead of solely focusing on due dates and as to how we can slide past it doing the bare minimum.

Schooling varies from place to place. Just seeing the shift between teaching methods and the general environment of schools, it struck my interest to really peer into how it affects students. I can definitely say that the Silicon Valley is on another level. It was an eye-opening experience to be flung into the middle of the biggest STEM centered hubs in the nation (even though sometimes it wasn’t enjoyable, and I was overwhelmed by work and societal pressure within the district). We need to find ways to teach our children to love what they’re being taught, implement excitement, motivation, and inspiration. Most importantly, we need to look into how we can eliminate toxic pressure. That pressure is the leading factor to mental health issues, lack of interest, and hatred for school. This pressure is what contributed to many, many suicides in my school district. If we do something about this pressure, and find a way to teach in a different light, lots of things will change.

Cover Image Credit: Didem Arslanoglu

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything

I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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3 Things i learned at pride in NYC

The people, the flags, and the glitter are even more magical in person.


On Sunday, June 24th, my girlfriend, my best friend and I, all hopped on a train to the World Trade Center in New York City. After a short subway ride, we arrived at 16th Street, where the parade festivities began. Dressed in our decked out rainbow attire, we entered a vibrant crowd of flag wielding, self-loving having, beautiful people. Pride is something the LGBTQIA+ community knows how to celebrate well. Lesbihonest, I think its safe to say that the LGBTQ+ community essentially created loving yourself, along with embracing those around you, whether you know them or not. While at Pride, I learned a few things about myself, about how to love others, and what it means to be apart of a community.

1. Love thy neighbor

Because pride is such an important event to the LGBTQIA+ community, the number of people that attend each year is increasing by the thousands. There were an expected 48,000 people this year and when you're amerced in such a large crowd keeping your cool is super important. I learned that in most cases, giving love will result in receiving it, especially in 84-degree weather. So when I was making my way through energetic crowds, I used my p's and q's and was met with the same energy from strangers.

2. At pride, the dress code is no dress code

If you're in the mood to wear your birthday suit, glitter, or witty t-shirt and celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community as a member or as an ally, pride is the place to be! The extravagant outfits and expression of self-pride through clothes and even lack of clothes made me feel extremely comfortable in my own outfit. I think we all have had our share of being uncomfortable in our skin or clothes, but being around thousands of people dressed in whatever made them most comfortable that day was a beautiful experience.

3. Pride is not solely about the LGBTIA+ community

Heritage of Pride, the nonprofit organization that organizes New York City's LGBT pride events each year, strives to work towards creating a future that consists of equal rights for all under the law. The march is an annual civil rights demonstration that brings awareness to the fight against aids, the Black Lives Matter movement and memorializes those who have lost their lives to illness, violence and neglect. This year over 450 different organizations participated in the march and about 110 floats were shown, each float bringing awareness to different organizations.

As an Afro-Latina, lesbian, I felt very represented and extremely grateful to participate in a civil rights event such as pride. The opportunity to educate myself and even feel more comfortable in my own skin, and enjoy myself with the people I love most, is something I will truly cherish. Hopefully, my experiences and knowledge will expand next year at the 2019 NYC pride!

Cover Image Credit:

Em Goss

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