My Unique High School Experience

My Unique High School Experience

My high school experience was different from the norm and I will always be appreciative of that.

Since starting college, I have found that whenever the phrase ‘high school’ comes up in conversation I am bound to end up in a lengthy conversation explaining how my high school worked.

I recall the first time I casually brought up my headmaster’s first name in conversation with friends about our principals and was confused as to why my friends were taken back by my casual demeanor around it. These scenarios along with several other instances made me realize just how unique my educational experience was compared to what many others went through.

At the end of the day, I am extremely proud to be an alum of my high school and would not have changed those four years for anything.

From the outside, we are referred to as the “hippy school of Atlanta” and best known by other schools as “the school where they don’t have to wear shoes”. That being said, my high school was still a very difficult and challenging environment. Rather than taking an AP course because it would help us towards college, we took more specific classes at the same highly challenging levels. This allowed us to take classes we were truly interested in and let teachers teach topics they found interesting rather than the same dull material.

I still took the same sort of classes as other high school students across the nation. Instead of AP French, I took a class called “French literature and film” where we read and watched French classics. Instead of AP English, I took a course titled “Marching to your own drum” where we read books and plays by authors, or about characters, who didn’t follow the norms of their time.

In general, we did not really have a strict curriculum that teachers had to follow or exact classes we had to take.

That being said, there wasn’t a complete lack of direction or structure. We did have to take one science, one English, one math, and one history based class each semester. Besides these required courses, students could take whatever they pleased! Because of this relaxed structure, the teachers could come up with classes that they wanted to teach and share with students a topic that they are personally fascinated by rather than teaching the same boring material given to them by the school system.

From a broader sense, my high school was more relaxed than most in terms of rules. The teachers and administrators trusted us to make our own decisions. We were essentially treated like normal adults. We called our teachers by their first names and were able to gain a special bond with some due to learning about each other’s personal lives. While our relationships with our teachers were considered unique, so was the learning environment.

The school was made up of old homes from the neighborhood that had been converted into classrooms, as well as a few buildings built in between to be able to hold the increasing number of students. So, because of this some buildings only have three-five classrooms. This causes you to have to go outside and walk to the next building. Rather than being stuck in one building surrounded by concrete walls and tall windows you can’t see out of, we would be able to walk outside for five or so minutes between classes to get fresh air.

Also, we did not have a cafeteria because once again, the school was built out of old homes. Homes from the early 1900s were not built to include a high school cafeteria. Because of this, students ate in the hallways or classrooms. On nice days, the benches and walls scattered around campus would be full of students, as well as the park across the street.

We were not expected to raise our hands. In fact, it was seen as weird if you did. Every class, except a limited few, were set up as 100% discussion based. This meant you were expected to share your opinions when they came to mind, just as if it was a normal conversation with friends. You wouldn’t raise your hand in a normal conversation, so why would you need to raise it in a classroom to share your opinion?

Also, if you needed to leave the room to go to the bathroom or get water you just got up at an appropriate time and left. We were once again treated like adults and expected to know when it is and isn’t appropriate to leave the room.

I think part of the reason we were given this much freedom was that they wanted us to learn life lessons by making mistakes such as missing valuable material for a test by leaving the room rather than from being punished.

In my opinion, the most valuable part of the school leadership is that they have set up an environment where they want the students to be able to discover who we are by ourselves and to form our own opinions and values in our own time.

Additionally, we did not really have a dress code more than “be presentable”. In my four years, I never once witnessed anyone getting in trouble for what they were wearing. This factor is something that I really appreciate in my high school. I hear stories from people who graduated from the “typical” high school in which they had strict dress codes and couldn’t leave the room without a hall pass or an escort.

Overall, I will always be extremely appreciative of my high school experience. It definitely was a huge proponent of shaping me into who I am today -- both academically and personally.

Cover Image Credit: Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

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Why Nursing School Is Different Than Any Other Major

Because most other majors can't kill someone accidentally by adding wrong.

College is hard. Between studying for numerous amounts of tests and balancing eating, working out, maintaining a social life, and somehow not breaking your bank account, it’s no wonder a common conversation among students is “how many mental breakdowns did you have this week?” Every major will pose its own challenges; that’s truth. Nursing school, however, is a special kind of tough that only other nursing majors can understand.

SEE ALSO: Quit Bashing Radford University

Nurses are the backbone and unsung hero of healthcare. Their job is to advocate for the patient, collaborate care among all other healthcare team members, carry out physician orders, recognize and report patient progress (or lack thereof), run interference for the patient with any unwanted visitors, research and validate evidence based practice, all while maintaining a certain aurora of confidence for patients and their loved ones that “everything will be okay” and “I’ve got this under control”. If that sounds like a lot; that’s because it is. The majority of skills that we learn that make good nurses cannot actually be taught in theory classes. It’s the hours of actual practice and a certain knack for caring for people- all people- that makes a good nurse great. The countless, unrelenting hours that are spent on the floor in clinical humble us, we know that we’re not great yet, but we’re trying.

Our professors expect us to be humble as well. Nurses do not seek gold stars for their actions, instead the precedence that is set for us to that we “do the right thing because it is the right thing to do”. Most nursing programs grading scales are different. To us, a failing grade isn’t actually getting a 69 or lower, it’s an 80. And that makes sense; no one would want a nurse who only understand 70% of what is happening in the body. We have to understand the normal body response, what happens when things go wrong, why it happens the way it does, and how to properly intervene. We want to learn, it interests us, and we know that the long theory classes and the hard days on the floor are just to make us better. However, any triumph, anytime you do well, whatever small victory that may feel like for you, it just what is supposed to happen- it’s what is expected, and we still have much to learn.

I look back on my decision to take on nursing school, and I often find myself questioning: why? There are so many other majors out there that offer job security, or that help people, or would challenge me just as much. But, when I think of being a nurse- it’s what fulfills me. There’s something that the title holds that makes me feel complete (and that same fact is going to resonate with anyone who wants to love their job). I wouldn’t change the decision I made for anything, I love what I am learning to do and I feel that it’s part of what makes me who I am. The other students who I have met through nursing school are some of the most amazing people I have ever come into contact with, and the professors have helped me understand so much more about myself than I thought possible.

Nursing is treating and understanding the human response. Meaning that it’s not just the disease process, or the action of the medication, or the care that we provide, but that nurses treat the way in which people deal, react, feel, and cope with good news, bad news, terrible procedures, hospital stays and being completely dependent on other people. And the fact of the matter is that all people are different. There is no one magic treatment that will always work for every patient. In addition to course work, the clinical hours, the passion and drive to want to be a nurse, and the difficulty that comes with any medical profession, we have to understand each individual patient, as people and not their illness. And, in order to do that so much self discovery goes on each day to recognize where you are and how you are coping with everything coming your way.

What is taught in nursing school goes far beyond just textbook information or step by step procedures. We have to learn, and quickly, how to help and connect with people on a level which most struggle to accomplish in a lifetime. It's a different kind of instruction, and it either takes place quickly or not at all. The quality of nurse you become depends on it. Nursing school is different, not harder or better than any other school, just different.

SEE ALSO: Stop Putting Down Radford University

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Body Image Lessons That I Didn't Learn From A Professor

What I realized about body image my freshman year of college


Girls usually struggle with self image in general. But the game changes when it's time to go to college. When you are constantly surrounded by your peers, you begin to compare all of the little things they do to you. You compare their bodies to yours. You try to figure out what they are doing that you're not. Or vice versa, why they don't have to do anything to look the way they do. But by the end of my first year, I realized that I would never be happy with myself if I kept thinking this way. So I recorded some realizations I had throughout the year that helped me to improve my body image.

My body is, and never will be the same as any other girl... and that's okay

Different sized and shaped strawberries

It can be so easy in college to compare your body to the girls that surround you. Like the one's live with and you see on a daily basis. There is no point in comparing apples to oranges, so why would you compare your body to a girl who was made completely different? So what you can't fit into her party pants, you can rock another pair just as well.

What works for her, might not work for me

Daily Planner

With different body types, comes different food and exercise needs. Some girls don't need to work out or eat healthy to keep a slim frame. Some girls are naturally muscular. Your routine needs to be catered to you, and there is no need to analyze what someone else eats or does to try to attain their stature. You have to do what feels right for YOUR body to have a good self image.

Don't spend too much time on istagram

Obviously social media effects our body image because of how easily and frequently photos are edited and then presented for the most likes. So if there is a certain account that always makes you feel bad when you see their content, unfollow, and take that aspect out of your life. However, because social media is unavoidable you can't completely escape all the provoking images. So when scrolling, think positively about those who's pictures you see, don't compare, and be aware of the previous lessons.

It's okay for your body to fluctuate

The weight and look of your body can easily fluctuate, It's just natural. And in the same way your life fluctuates, your body may follow along and thats not a big deal! In exam season, there might not be enough time to go to the gym everyday. Or during the holidays there might be an increase of indulgence in treats. But its all okay as long as your getting things done or enjoying life. The only time it becomes an issue if the fluctuations turn unhealthy.

Cut out the negativity

If a friend is constantly complaining to you about their body, it can trigger distress in you, and set you back. So if someone else's body image issues are interfering with you mentally, you need to call them out on their B.S. or stop allowing them say those things in front of you.

Wear clothes that you feel comfortable in

If you wear things that you feel comfortable in, then you wont constantly be thinking about how your stomach, legs, or arms look throughout the day. Wear something that you are confident in, even if it means wearing leggings every day of the week!

I'm not a little kid anymore, therefore my body is not going to look like one

Curves and changes that come after high school can take anyone by surprise, but it's supposed to happen. You can't really be mad at can only find the beauty in it.

Everyone has their own insecurities

Even if someone has your ideal body, odds are they still despise theirs. I have met friends in college that are stick skinny, yet are self conscious about it. I know curvy girls that are very insecure. And even an "average" body type has a thousand things that they nit-pick about themselves. No one has their dream body and never will, which is why I had to learn to love the little things about mine.

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