Stress. It is a common word in the vocabulary of the average student and one that is repeated almost like a mantra within the CHS school population. Whether it stems from grades, personal drama, overexertion, or a combination of all three, stress has become an inevitable part of student life. However, whether this stress is all but a normal part of the high school experience or an unhealthy side effect of living in a competitive environment is up to the interpretation of the student. A recent survey of 146 students conducted by The Prospector has revealed that a majority of students feel overly stressed by the competitive nature of their schools.
Stress Frequency Among Students Per Week
It is clear from the responses above that students are frequently stressed out. Other data from the survey also indicates that academics are not the only trigger for anxiety. Extracurricular activities, such as clubs and sports, cause students to feel even more pressure.
Responses to the survey also reveal that the issue of stress is not exclusive to any particular school. In fact, several students have brought up similar problems within the FUHSD school district.
With a majority of students dedicating their four years of high school to working towards an admission to a “good” university, it can be difficult to pursue hobbies that are not typically featured on college applications. Junior Olivia Shearin from Cupertino High School notes that the competitively academic nature of CHS makes it difficult to spend time on cosplay, a main hobby of hers. This year’s finals week coincides with Fanime, a major anime expos event in which participants cosplay as different characters.
“Fanime is my major event of the year because it’s one of the few times when I get to meet my friends from other states or parts of California, and I feel like the changed finals schedule is interfering with that, as I was really hopeful that a few of the finals would be moved ahead of the schedule,” Shearin said. “It’s stressful to have a non-academic hobby in Cupertino schools.”
Despite the pressure on students to pursue “academic” hobbies, Shearin has resolved to continue enjoying cosplay, as it has provided several opportunities to relax and meet new people. Said Shearin, “People kind of look down on me for wasting my time, but it’s one of my personal goals to continue pursuing personal interests even though it’s junior year.”
The school has certainly taken commendable efforts to reduce the issue of stress within the student body. A junior at Cupertino noted that “the school did try to reduce stress by inviting Judie-Lycott Haimes for her speech, but I didn’t think it was as effective as [the school] may have hoped.” Other attempts by CHS to reduce stress at school include the survey taken by Stanford University and the subsequent meeting with staff and parents that followed to discuss the data, as well as
Several schools within the area have also noticed the high levels of stress among students. Monta Vista High School, for example, has taken strides to reduce student stress on campus by holding Ole Day, which worked to help Monta Vista students relax in a variety of ways such as offering free ice cream to students and bringing therapy dogs on campus. Said Monta Vista senior Flora Xia, “A few years back, some students got a team of statisticians to give a survey to the entire school regarding stress. It revealed that Monta Vista kids were very stressed and felt that they couldn’t talk about it to anyone on the campus.” Ever since the faculty has discovered the issue, it has taken steps to alleviate the students of the pressure placed on students to constantly strive for perfection. At the same time, the ASB of Fremont High School organized a “stress-less” week before finals last year, where they scheduled events such as a movie night, yoga classes, and even a karaoke session the week before finals were set to begin.
Said Xia, “The purpose of Ole Day was to give students a chance to have a ‘fun’ day to relax. Teachers were encouraged to make their lesson plans as fun as possible, the school played music over the speakers instead of using bells, and they brought in therapy dogs and cats for the students to pet.”
Despite some arguments from students that one day cannot eliminate the stress placed on high school students, Xia expresses appreciation towards the Monta Vista faculty for attempting to help its students. “Of course, it didn’t magically get rid of all my stress, but it made my day a little nicer, and that’s what matters.”
The competitive academic nature of the area has proven a difficult obstacle to tackle in the effort to reduce the pressure placed on Bay Area students. However, with recent efforts to alleviate that tension, there is some hope on students realizing the importance of enjoying the high school experience.