The Garnet Mine

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Good Grades At What Cost?

Since when do grades take priority over mental health?

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Rye High School is a great school. Known for getting its students accepted into prestigious universities and having an almost perfect graduation rate, Rye was unsurprisingly ranked as the 90th best high school in America by US News. However, Rye’s success comes at a cost, and that is the health of its students.

We go to school in such a high-stake environment where we’re led to believing that failure is unacceptable and a grade lower than a 90 is terrible. The secret competition between students is so cut-throat that a friendly conversation about school can easily turn into a battle for who has better grades. I personally have become so obsessed with my grades that I check the Parent Portal upwards of three times a day and get annoyed when I see anything less than a 95 in the grade book. This isn’t normal behavior, but I know I’m not alone. Our unhealthy habits have become a byproduct of the pressure inadvertently put on us by the school environment. Motivation to do well in school is good, but not when it begins to consume your life and ruin your relationships.

The stressor for many. Photo courtesy of Rye City School District.

There is such a thing as healthy stress, and it’s called eustress. But for the most part, that is not the stress students at Rye are experiencing. We are experiencing stress that hijacks our minds and paralyzes us. For many of us, school has become a dirty word and a place of absolute hell. I’ve enjoyed going to school my whole life because I love learning and being with my friends. But the stress and pressure takes the happiness I’ve ever felt at school and throws it out the window.

This next week is not only the week before Spring Break, but also the last week of the quarter, which many students will recognize as a deadly combination. I am no stranger to the doomed last week of the quarter, although this time around, it has somehow managed to top itself as worse than usual because break conveniently falls on the same week. From Friday, March 24 to Wednesday, March 28, my schedule consists of two math tests, two science tests, a Spanish quiz, an AP World quiz, an AP World DBQ essay, and an English essay; all crammed into four days of school. With all of this, it’s no wonder so many kids at Rye suffer from extreme stress, anxiety, and depression.

Many students would do anything to see this on a test. Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Trying to showcase how bad the stress is of students at Rye High School really is, I asked a few of my friends what the main source of their stress is, and the answers were mostly unsurprising.

Caitlyn Walsh: “The idea that everyone thinks in order to succeed in life, you have to go to a top notch college.”

Cailee Formon: “School.”

Margaret Scully: “School work, such as tests and quizzes.”

Amy Morrissey: “When multiple teachers put tests on the same day because it’s just way more than I can handle.”

Jena Yi: “Time management.”

Emily Mehler: “I want to be the best because average isn’t good enough, so every test is a boxing match against other students. Everyone is competition.”

Gracie Pemble: “Besides school and tests, probably my sister.”

Jordan Basso: “AP World.”

Kristin Chapman: “Most of my stress is caused by homework and balancing multiple things at once, especially when it comes to managing my time.”

Megan Sadler: “AP World stresses me out.”

Olivia Dabinett: “I find it really stressful to try and juggle all my sports and extracurriculars while still trying to find time to do my homework and study for tests. Trying to do everything I have to do in the time I have is quite stressful.”

Tess Greenhaw: “One main cause of my stress is the cycle that school puts me in. With after school activities, it’s hard to manage a high school workload AND get to bed at a decent hour. Then I have to wake up really early, barely have time to eat, be tired all day, and the cycle continues.”

Kate Stevens: “School work/major tests (SATs, APs, etc).”

Fiona Douglas: “Definitely the pressure of teachers and tests.”

Although these are only the opinions of a few students, I’m sure that a huge number of the rest of the school population feels the same way.

And let me clarify one last thing: obviously a challenge is good, and as high school students, we need to be challenged in order to better prepare for college and the world beyond. But when teachers cram everything into the last week of the quarter, it does no one a favor. Even the most relaxed people don’t like having this much work at once. Being so overwhelmed that you feel like you’re drowning in your work is not a good feeling; trust me on this one.

Our school, and maybe it’s not just Rye, but actually the entire country, clearly has a problem on its hands, and until someone does something about it, it will only continue to grow. Talking about the problem won’t fix anything, but action will, and that’s what this school needs.

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Good Grades At What Cost?”

  1. Dolores Molloy on March 27th, 2018 4:49 pm

    Wonderful article Grace! Life is stressful enough, school should not add to it. All of you are different and I hope this article brings home that not all the students can deal with the deadlines and timed projects and may even just feel is it really worth it! Keep up the good articles, they really help.

  2. Joan Phillips de Vives on March 28th, 2018 6:12 pm

    Great article Grace! Stress and depression are disabling, and nothing can be more negative than that. It’s about time that those in charge – on a grand scale – made some changes.
    Everybody’s different, but worried overworked students are unfortunately, in abundance. There are ways to get around this..
    I have two sons who went through Rye High School, and are now parents themselves. They’re already having some problems themselves. It’s not confined to Rye.

    Rye High School is a top level school. As we know, many people move to Rye, especially to send their children there. They should try to make their students leatning years more enjoyable and less stressful. Everyone will achieve more.

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Good Grades At What Cost?