Saratoga students drive competitive culture, collective success

December 13, 2019 — by Rohan Kumar

Students here love their academics. Their PSAT, SAT and ACT scores are significantly higher than the national average, and the school’s various academic clubs, from Future Business Leaders of America to Science Bowl, participate and place in national competitions. We have internationally ranked mathletes and award-winning writers. Every year, seniors are accepted into prestigious colleges like Stanford and MIT.

Saratoga High’s enduring culture of success in academics begs the question: What allows our students to continue achieving academically? 

There are a multitude of factors. Qualified teachers and determined parents absolutely contribute. Specifically, Saratoga is known for the quality of its education, bringing in parents who want their children to learn in a positive, helpful environment. Parents also play an active role in their children’s success, acting as role models. Given that an uncommonly high percentage of Saratogan parents have a college degree, students at Saratoga often have a powerful educational force at home.

However, the most important ingredient in Saratoga High’s recipe for success is the students themselves.

SHS students are notorious for constantly comparing their grades on tests, asking their friends what grade they got on the last chemistry test or what their highest essay score was in English last semester. Although this does contribute to a stressful environment, the stress encourages students to work harder in order to compete with their peers.

With many students having stellar grades relative to other schools, their peers are encouraged to work harder than they would in a school without such competition.

However, the competitive environment is far from the only way that students contribute to each other’s success. The presence of many stellar students here is encouraging for others who might see these students as role models. Seeing members of their community with amazing academic achievements outside of school gives students a sense that they too could achieve similar things. Given that the school had 51 National Merit Semifinalists this year, students are more likely to see being a National Merit Semifinalist as a reachable goal.

Furthermore, with students participating in so many extracurriculars and preparing for so many standardized tests, The school has a massive bank of student experience and knowledge. Students that spend time studying for the SAT can share their strategies with younger students, and students that participated in speech and debate can help new students get accustomed to public speaking.

In fact, a lot of clubs here are entirely based on students acting as teachers or mentors to their peers. The majority of coaching in speech and debate is done by student captains. Quiz Bowl and Science Bowl practices are entirely organized and run by the students. In the Toga Jr. Math Club, high school students that are interested in math teach younger kids, transferring their knowledge and expertise to the next generation of Saratoga High students.

With motivated students achieving higher and subsequently motivating younger students, Saratoga High’s student accomplishment is self-propagating, allowing it to continue supporting Saratogan success.