Feeling the strain of pressure

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

As I pop in my tape of Queen's greatest hits and play "Under Pressure" by Freddie Mercury and David Bowie, the thought comes to mind not of the popular rock singers, but of the reality of the song, especially in the daily lives of high school students everywhere.

Most students learn about pressure from motivational speakers in second grade. I, on the other hand, did not realize the tremendous impact that pressure would have on me in high school when I was skipping rope and learning my times tables. The harsh reality is opened up to students everywhere when they jump that giant hurdle into high school where schedules are harder, grades are vital and pressure is alive and kickin'.

Compared to my freshman year at the junior high, my sophomore year (at the actual high school), has proven to be more strenuous. My schedule is packed with the five different clubs and one sport I'm currently involved in. As if 7:30 a.m. meetings and practices until 5 p.m. aren't enough, there is also the homework, which needs no explanation. Doing one to two hours -- or more before test days -- is extremely exhausting. I am lucky and took study hall this semester, which helps drastically. However, along with many other students, I chose to take advanced placement courses and advanced classes, which every day proves to be a challenge. Even students without time-consuming clubs, sports and classes have pressure put on them every day. Students everywhere will agree with me when I say sometimes classes are just hard. On the other hand, I believe that anyone can achieve his or her goals with hard work and dedication. Wow, I guess my parents are really rubbing off on me. But still, the classwork is just another form of pressure students today must face.

The time issue at the high school also has proven to be a disappointment to me. While I couldn't wait for the day of lunch freedom and off-campus choices, when the time finally came I found that our mere 35 minutes or so for lunch is hardly enough to get to a car, let alone drive it somewhere. But you can, which many students may argue, rush to your car, speed to the nearest fast food place and wait 15 minutes in the drive-through to receive your sloppy food so you can scarf it down while speeding back to school with the risk of being in a serious accident. Doesn't sound too intriguing to me. It is especially hard for students who cannot drive yet, or don't have a car and need their parents to chauffeur them around incessantly.

High school has proven to be a wake-up call to the hundreds at my school. The pressure we all face on a daily basis is a lot more than most adults imagine. So before anyone goes criticizing high school students for their inability to "step up" and be perfect, try talking to them about it or at least putting yourself in their shoes. Because -- trust me -- after seven hours of walking, sitting and sometimes sprinting to meet all the different kinds of pressure five days a week, those shoes eventually get worn out.

Audrey Stanfield is a sophomore at Jackson High School.

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