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The High School Circus: An ECS student’s perspective

By Louisa Benatovich, Student Reporter

Success is often coined as one’s ability to juggle the multitude of strangeness that life presents. Some are far better than others, and these elite few soar through life as the ones who have it all. 

This cacophony of responsibility is supposed to begin after high school, even after college. Life in high school is supposed to be simple, binary: get good grades for a good life.

Of course, there are other options — technical schools, special programs and the like — but the principle remains. It should be a simple game of catch, right?

Nowadays, high school students juggle much more than their decades-older counterparts. I suppose bias plays its role in that statement, but with depression and anxiety commonplace, who could exactly argue?

Standards for universities and employment climb higher and higher, and we stand now in an epidemic where students overexert themselves just to stand a chance at a future.

It’s not simple game. It’s a veritable circus.

“Yes, I do think school is harder now than it was, say, 50 years ago,” says Meganne Chapman, an aspiring civil engineer. “Now, we have lots of college classes to contend with, most with the same standard as if they were in the college setting.”

Chapman, who plays three varsity sports, participates in a variety of clubs, stars in the school musical, plays an instrument, balances a rigorous course load, stays in the top five of her class and holds down a job, gets frustrated when she’s told to slow down.

“I’m still a kid. I have a right to experience things,” she said. Chapman’s schedule, though, she acquiesces, does take its toll. She gets between four to six hours of sleep per night.

When asked exactly how she balances it all, Chapman’s response is short: “I don’t know.”

Sierra Maybee, senior and prospective pharmacist, shoulders a similar workload with the weighty addition of the New Visions program.

“The only way to make myself stay on top of my work,” she explains, “is to force myself to do it when I have the time. It’s especially hard after sports games.”

“I enjoy sports. I’m not going to give them up because people think I’m overloading myself,” she continued. “I’ve been playing from such a young age, they’re just a part of my life.

Maybee said she doesn’t think she’d be who she is today if not for being forced to balance it all.

“The reality is, in high school, students don’t get enough recognition for the stress they go through,” said Ginna Hensel, senior and a driving force at ECS. “We have jobs, play sports, run our clubs, play instruments or sing, help our families and go to school.”

Although she can’t tell you how she does it, Hensel said the biggest helpful hint she can give is to find your drive.

“Find that ‘chip on your shoulder’ that will cause you to work hard, play hard, and keep going,” she said. “For me, it is my little brother. I know that if I work hard now, I can reward him and myself later in life.”

“I stay on top of things by using every second of free-time I have,” Hensel continued. “And I make sure to reward myself after a long week. I always give 100 percent during the week and take a little break on the weekend. Above all, I try to get enough sleep.”

As a high school student myself, I see this drive sometimes twisted into something ugly. No longer is it in pursuit of passion, but, instead, in the name of competition.

It’s a fencing match, jabs back and forth of who slept less, who worked longer and who did better. It can get toxic, but, as seniors, we like to think we’ve found some sort of balance.

We all have our “thing.” Some of us work 40 hours in a week, some take care of sick relatives and some parent their siblings while their mothers and fathers maintain jobs. No one of us is better than the other.

This wasn’t written to attract pity or spark some sort of generational controversy. This was merely written as a proclamation. For those who worry about this generation: don’t. We’ve walked the tightrope long enough. We’ll be just fine.

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