Inside the brick walls, around the lines of lockers, between the rows of desks and within the minds of high school students, a war rages on. The war has been silent for the most part, with battles occurring internally, save for the occasional outburst or breakdown. The enemy is stealthy and omniscient, slowly tearing away everything they once were. Amidst this scene of carnage and chaos, facing a vague enemy and uncertain battle, is the average high school student, a lone fighter against the stress brought on to them.
Every attack and every battle is the result of increased pressure on high school students. Pressure brought on by colleges, parents, teachers, even the students themselves. This ongoing war causes students to buckle under the pressure of their everyday lives. Students are encouraged by adults to be involved; join clubs, do sports, and make friends. While we are told to have fun while we are still children, we are expected to work like adults. We are told to get out homework done but to work hard to succeed in our sports or band performances. How is a student expected to succeed in school, in sports, in clubs, and in live without enough hours in the day? How is a student expected to enjoy their childhood while still expected to act like an adult? How is a student expected to be the best they can with immense pressure building up on them?
Plain graphite, when put under immense pressure, turns into valuable diamonds. High school is the stage between normal graphite and sparkling jewels, when the immense pressure is applied. Without pressure, there can be no diamonds -- but high school students are not as durable as graphite or as brilliant as diamonds.
Diamonds are unflinchingly hard, but high school is a soft and impressionable time of malleable minds unable to handle extreme pressure. Each high school student is a gem in their own right, through their own personality and experiences, individual and unique, and the pressure placed upon them is unnecessary and detrimental. There are expectations -- so many new standards, bars set unimaginably high, raised by parents who push them onwards, teachers who believe in success, siblings or acquaintances who have succeeded, and peers engaged in a mysterious competition for an unknown title.
The first siege comes from the very institution itself, the physical building and invisible atmosphere of high school, the main battlegrounds of the war against pressure. Only for most, it's a losing battle, a one-sided fight that ends with pressure overwhelming high school students. However this war does not need to wage on forever. The battlegrounds can be changed to aid the high school student. There are many ways to make peace with stress, school can help students combat their stress.
Ways to stifle stress include no homework nights, stress reduction days, Stress free festivals, therapy dogs, wellness rooms, and short breaks in the days. These concepts have been incorporated into school all over the United States. Not only have they been used, but they have succeeded.
No homework nights (when no teachers assigns homework) could be given once a month to help students relax. Stress reduction days are used at Lexington High School in Massachusetts. During these stress reduction days students can do yoga, listen to music, and work on or view art work. Newark's Central High School has Stress-Free festivals where students learn about mental health and can do yoga or meditation. Prospect High School has a therapy dog for students who are feeling over whelmed, therapy dogs are known to suppress stress in all ages. Lastly, Belfast Area High School renovated an old art room into a wellness room where students can have massages, listen to relaxing music, meditate, and do yoga.
Our school would greatly benefit from these ideas to end the war against stress. Students will be able to call a ceasefire in a war that won't be defeated by surrendering to pressure, but instead defying it. With the help of teachers and administrators, our school will be a battlefield tailored to students. Making them able to defeat stress in this ongoing war.