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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Students prevent stress in many ways

Like a lot of students, junior Rebecca Chen wishes there were more than 24 hours in a day. She goes to school from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and then off to a 3-hour swim practice, followed by 5 or more hours of homework. She usually only gets 7 hours of sleep on a normal weekday.

Overloaded with stress, students often feel that there is no hope or that there is simply too much to do. Guidance counselor Alinna Satake agrees that high school is, in general, a stressful time.

“In a school like ours,” Satake said, “you get a lot of self-perpetuated pressures [such as] peer pressure and social pressure to perform and out-perform each other.”

As students go through their high school years, they become more accustomed to the presence of extreme stress.

“It’s hard to live up to the standards that people, especially our parents, want us to meet,” said sophomore Ashley Joshi. “I try really hard to do the best I can do, but sometimes it’s not good enough, so I push myself to give more than I have.”

A large part of the stress also comes from the academics themselves and the amount of work they require. Students take numerous honors and AP classes to appeal to elite colleges. However, admission to a name-brand school doesn’t always promise success.

“A student’s character and ability is going to be much more meaningful in determining their success ultimately than the name of the college they attend,” said assistant principal Brian Safine.

Both Safine and Satake agree that if students could accomplish one step at a time and feel proud about it, their lives would become much healthier. Guidance counselor Christy Cali believes that procrastination often increases stress, and students should be doing more earlier to avoid running into problems in the future, during a so-called “crunch period.”

This is, in fact, often the case. Junior Shannon Roseberry often struggles to balance her school work with her extracurricular activities such as plays, musicals, volunteering, piano, dance, Girl Scouts and recreational gymnastics.

“I don’t get enough sleep and I am tired the next day,” Roseberry said. “Being tired makes me procrastinate and not get stuff done.”

Statistically speaking, a spring 2010 School Site Council Survey shows 51.6 percent parents said their children were “about right, but not overstressed” while 40.3 percent parents said their children were either “more stressed than [they] think is healthy” or “way more stressed than [they] think is healthy.” The rest of the parents reported there was little or no stress for their student.

However, the staff thinks that this is simply due to the competitive nature of the school. Safine believes that the school has done a lot to combat stress in recent years.

“Seven years ago, there was one tutorial on campus, not three,” said Safine. “There was no morning break. There was no block schedule. If you had seven periods, and five to six periods of those were AP, you had those every night and you had homework for those every night.”

Recently, the school has opted for another change to reduce stress. Starting next school year, first semester finals will be before winter break.

“We didn’t plan it to make students more miserable,” said Safine. “We planned it so you guys can have a real break when you finish finals.”

On a personal level, students also look toward hobbies that can alleviate some of the stress. Sophomore Sophia Zhu enjoys watching anime or going on Facebook to balance her stressful routine.

“I relax by procrastinating on the Internet,” Zhu said. “It’s entertaining and distracting.”

Satake agrees that making time for enjoyable activities is a priority when trying to reduce stress.

“[Even] if it’s just 10 or 15 minutes of doing something you love,” Satake said. “Remembering to eat, showering, seeing the sun—those are all good things. Find things that give you life and give you energy.”

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