Efforts to alleviate student stress require unified action

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It is commonly believed that many students associate a negative mindset with school. While school remains our primary source of knowledge and benefits us in the long run, it has come to the attention of the Oracle Editorial Board that students often feel overwhelmed by the amount of school work and exams they are receiving.

According to an unscientific Oracle-conducted survey of 304 students, 92 percent of students said that they sometimes to always feel stressed or overwhelmed because of school. Therefore, the Oracle Editorial Board has decided to address three different approaches to how school can be made a composed learning environment, rather than a cycle of hassle and anxiety.

TEACHERS

Teachers are entitled to teach by their own methods, but the Oracle Editorial Board suggests that teachers keep in mind that students have a life outside of academics, whether it be involvement in clubs, a job or participation in a sport. With that in mind, the Editorial Board recommends that departments communicate with one another during students’ most sressful times of the school year.

According to social worker David Hartman, these times include the ends of each quarter, before finals and before school breaks. To alleviate stress at these points of the year, the Oracle Editorial Board suggests the Dean’s Office publishes a schedule that teachers must abide by during high pressure times of the school year. The schedule would contain days that each department are allowed to schedule exams.

Also, as prefaced in the Health Department, the Oracle Editorial Board encourages teachers to hand out “Give me a break passes.” The Health Department uses these to give students extensions on homework assignments or free time in the hallway for half the block to catch up on work. The purpose of these passes is to help students “buy their sanity.” According to Health teacher Laura Duffy, the passes are meant to give students the option to prioritize their work or their time as they see fit.

“We have all been in a situation where we just can’t imagine how we are going to get it all done,” Duffy said. “That’s a very defeating feeling. I think the pass gives students choices, and everyone feels less stressed when they have choices. For example:  ‘Do it now and get no sleep’, or ‘Use a pass and get it done during SRT tomorrow.’ It allows students to learn to prioritize and use the helpful tools that are made available to them.”

Teachers can become more involved and aware of the other workloads of their students, thus being conscientious of the students’ overall performance and the overall understanding of the subject at hand, if the student is not burdened with studying for other exams or completing other assignments.

PARENTS/GUARDIANS

It is conventional for some guardians to check their student’s’ grades online regularly.  Though it is healthy to be involved with your student’s academic life, constantly checking PowerSchool may add unnecessary pressure on them.

The Oracle Editorial Board would like to stress the importance of establishing an understanding relationship between guardian and student. In the case of some parents, if the high demand of good academic standing is not met, it increases chances of failure and punishment for the student. It is necessary to explain poor academic performance, but simply reprimanding the student will not lead to an immediate increase in GPA. Students are compelled to perform well because of the pressure placed upon them by those who expect highly of them: guardians.

For senior Colton Davis*, who is taking all AP and honors courses, he feels his parents play a significant role in motivating him to perform well academically.

“I very much feel the need to succeed in school as it’s been instilled in me that truly there is no other option,” Davis said. “I, like many from this area, come from a family who has ‘succeeded’ in their lives and has this ideal path to success in their mind. Therefore, it is only natural that I also believe education and future security are synonymous.”

According to Davis, there were times that his parents resorted to unreasonable punishment and questioned his capability. Though he now holds a seemingly strict frame of mind concerning his academic performance because of his parents, Davis does think that it had a positive outcome to help him in the future.

“In the long run, I suppose [my parents’ pressure to do well] was positive,” Davis said. “I’m applying to top schools, and I’ve performed very highly in all things academic beyond this point.”

While it is important to see to it that your child succeeds academically and socially, it is equally as important to allow your child to succeed at their own rate. Though some guardians believe that support and stress upon good grades will lead to greater accomplishments, the best that you can do for them to achieve success is to define it, not by the amounts of A’s in their transcript, but rather the lucrative take away that he or she has and how it benefits their overall comprehension.

STUDENTS

All in all, students, it is placed upon you to seek your own threshold. Some are more inclined to challenge themselves, while others prefer to stay within their comfort zone and take classes up to their academic caliber. In either approach, the Oracle Editorial Board advocates that students seek their own academic rigor and learn for themselves. This applies to extracurricular activities as well. Though we are expected to be well-rounded students both academically and outside of school, certain sacrifices must be made to make sure that no one individual is spread too thin.

“Students need to recognize that they need to balance things,” Hartman said. “They don’t have to do everything. They don’t have to be in AP classes all the time. They don’t have to do all these things all the time, and it’s okay, sometimes, to do less.”

However, if it comes to a point that a student is unable to reevaluate and reassess their plan of action, there are plenty of informed adults around the school to help you out. According to senior Bridget Fogarty, co-president of Buoy club, which focuses on destressing students, student stress is commonly ignored in our community. She believes that, in order to improve the situation, one must seek out help.

“We, as a school, do such a great job of raising awareness for so many different things, but I think that one thing that everybody ignores is the fact that they need to destress [after] all the activities or sports or school classes they are taking,” Fogarty said. “I would definitely recommend talking to somebody that you are close with, whether it is a friend or teacher that you trust or a parent or sibling, and let them know that you are stressed. I feel like the worst thing you could do is lie to yourself and say that you’re fine and that you can handle everything [even though you can’t].”

*Names have been changed

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