The Stigma Behind Monta Vista

Walking through the halls of Monta Vista, I have grown used to certain snippets of conversation: “I’m taking so many APs this year!” “I don’t know if I can keep my 4.0…” “I’m seriously so tired and stressed…” As a rising junior, I’ve begun to realize that these snippets are not just the whining of a teenager; these complaints are the signs of a serious issue that has enrooted itself into many high school mindsets.

Since when did high school become a place to cram AP tests, take harder classes and pile on more extracurriculars, rather than a place to enjoy your teenage years? Since when did summers become a chance to “get ahead” from your peers rather than hang out with friends? Since when did we become so engrossed with the thought of getting into a “good” college and being successful that we’ve begun to lose our roots, our youth?

That is the real issue: our environment, manifesting from the pressure from parents, peers and ourselves to do well, overloads us with stress, forcing us to take classes and extracurriculars we don’t want simply to match our peers, which thus increases stress and pressures peers into a never-ending cycle.

Even the FUHSD school district has started to realize the problem, proposing later start times, fewer allowed AP tests, and other alternatives to relieve stress. But the real root of the issue can’t be solved with an hour delay in the school schedule or less testing; it must come from us. Our mindsets are the driving force of this pressure, and I think we are the only ones capable of truly shifting our mindsets. Therefore, although I understand I should still try my best in school, I’m determined not to forget to live a little, to enjoy high school and to make some irreplaceable memories.

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As many of my friends know, I love playing badminton. Feeling the racket slice through the air to smash down a birdie is one of the greatest sensations I know, and my love for it has caused me to pursue this sport with outside training.

When I realized there was a badminton team for Monta Vista, I jumped at the chance to escape dreaded PE and still stay relatively in shape as well. Expecting a casual and low-commitment practice, I passed tryouts and joined the JV team.

However, I soon discovered that the team was entirely different than I expected. The “easy” practices I anticipated turned out to be grueling daily practices, which often extended to past the two hours we were required to do. The most dreaded aspect of all was the conditioning every Friday: burpees, push-ups, laps of bunny hops, and so much more…

However, I will always be glad I joined the team. Not only was I kept fit, I also made friends and irreplaceable memories only obtainable through pain and effort. The daily painful practices brought our team closer together, and soon I was able to laugh and joke with my teammates with every mistake I made, eventually even meeting up to play with them over the summer and breaks.

So if you or your kid is hesitant about joining a sport, don’t think too much: just try it! The memories and friends you’ll make from team are unforgettable, and irreplaceable.

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As I write this newsletter, my mom hastily yells at me to hurry up and start packing. In just three hours, I will be out in the wilderness, detached from civilization, for almost 48 hours… In other words, I’m going camping!

As ages have passed since my last camping experience, conflicting emotions have been rushing through my head. It’s difficult to imagine having to leave my cozy haven of familiarity, which fills me with reluctance and annoyance. However, another part of me leaps in excitement, ready for a new experience and adventure.

So will I enjoy this camping experience? Although it may be hard at first to adjust to a new environment, I’m also ready for a change, an escape from the lethargic routine of summer. Hopefully this camping trip will simply be a spark to ignite my adventurism: a start to pushing out of my comfort zone this summer!

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Join a hike!

Summer is less than a week away… But what are you going to do with it? If you have a lot of free time this summer, take a break from the stress and join a Stroller Hikes hike! It’s a great way to enjoy the summer weather and experience nature – with some company as well!

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Breaking Free from Dead Week

Monta Vista is about to hit dead week – the last week before finals and one of the most dreadest weeks of the year full of cramming, studying and stress. Surrounded by people frantically scribbling notes, reading through textbooks and taking practice tests, it’s nearly impossible to avoid the pressure of dead week. I’ve even begun to see the signs: the tired looks on my friends’ faces, the worried and strained expressions of people as they rush to the library. But it’s not simply a few people; the stress somehow manages condense into an environment and surround the school and the students inside, affecting each and every one of us.

Whether it be a last chance to bring their grades up a letter grade or a struggle to maintain their borderline grade, dead week is crucial for so many students. However, what I really hate is the studymindset and stigma behind this notion. So many students regard dead week as their last opportunity, their last hope, that they pile so much pressure on themselves and almost break in the process. They view finals as a hit-or-miss opportunity, a do-or-die for that one letter grade, and therefore force themselves to cram and memorize a year’s worth of information, thinking, “I have to get this score on my final; I have to do well, or else…”

But what happens if you don’t succeed, if you hit that “or else…;” if you “miss?” Is a lower letter grade truly the end of the world, the pitfall at the edge of the cliff? Will all the colleges instantly shun you, will you friends and family stop caring about you, will the world stop revolving? Sometimes students forget that that one test grade or class grade does not mean the end of the world. One failure does not define you, and grades certainly do not (hopefully).

And they also lose the essence of learning. In their haste to cram material, students forget to understand and truly process the information and thus, they forget to learn. They value the end result so much that they forget to stop to enjoy the process. In several years, one letter grade might not matter, but the information you have learned will stick with you forever. But what do students value? What’s right in front of them, that shining letter that they perceive as the definition of their hard work, their intelligence.

I’m currently in the struggle of defeating my own mindset, as I still subconsciously continue to stick to the “A or failure” mindset. And I know it’s almost impossible to defeat the ominous cloud hanging over the school, striking stress and fear in the students’ hearts. But I move forward with stubbornness, with obstinance, with a refusal to give up. Perhaps I may never be able to see beyond this narrow mindset, never be able to shake free of these chains that shackle us to our own failure. But perhaps I will, and taking that first step has made all the difference.

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