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The Stress Epidemic at WHS
November 24, 2021
Imagine you’re a WHS student. Your alarm goes off at 7 a.m. You get up, get ready for school and arrive at WHS by 8:30. You attend all six blocks of classes. The school day ends, but you still have to attend your club meeting or sports or theatre practice. You finally get home, but now you have to start your homework. For hours, you write essays, solve math problems and practice Newton’s 2nd law problems. Suddenly, it’s midnight—much later than intended to go to sleep. The next morning, you wake up at 7 a.m. You do it all again. Each day, your work snowballs, and your stress levels increase.
Students face large amounts of homework, on top of upcoming exams and projects, with little amount of time to get it all done. According to a survey sent out to WHS students, 94% of respondents experience stress each day at school. Students are expected to be able to balance all of their work and activities while managing their stress.
All students experience different aspects of stress. For freshman Emma Alongi, time management has been a huge stress inducer. Alongi has experienced a drastic change from a middle school workload to a high school workload, as well as having less free time. Alongi spends, on average, 90 minutes to two-and-a half hours on homework each night. Alongi has not been able to find ways to cope with her stress.
“School is really my only stress,” Alongi said. “I know it’s important to manage time, so I use my studies and my lunches to meet with teachers if necessary, but it becomes a problem because if I meet with my teacher during lunch [because] I can’t actually eat.”
On top of school work, many students participate in various different clubs, sports, jobs and other activities that take up time after school. Sports are a very common after school activity that takes time out of many student-athletes’ days.
“I will be at soccer practice and girls are stressing out about doing homework,” Alongi said. “They will be like, ‘I have to go home and study for my test,’ and ‘I have so much work.’ They can’t even enjoy hanging out on weekends because they have to do work.”
Even when students have minimal free time, they still are expected to get all of their school work done. Senior Haley Melvin spends an average of four to five hours each night completing assignments. Melvin has also not found ways to deal with her stress.
“If I had a high school sport right now, I don’t think I would have enough time to get my work done,” Melvin said. “I know that my friends that play fall sports are really struggling with time management.”
For many students, balancing their activities and school work has not been possible. Many students have moved from AP or honors classes into college or intro level classes.
“I just have a lot to balance in my life,” senior Elliot Mee said. “Between work and school Monday through Friday. I don’t have much free time during the weekdays. On top of the college process and social life, I just have so much to balance.”
According to the survey taken by many WHS students, about 50% of WHS students said that their stress from school work and after school activities is, in some way, affecting their mental health.
“If you have extra curricular activities, it makes it really hard to find time to do homework after school and still find time to enjoy yourself,” sophomore Jackson Moleux said. “I get stressed and then I end up just skipping the assignment because it’s too much.”
“I love learning about some of the topics we are being taught [in school], but the stress of seeing a bad grade in the Home Access Center has shifted my attention from my enjoyment for learning to simply taking in as much information as possible to avoid that bad grade,” freshman Alex Irwin said.
COVID-19 has affected every student at WHS. The senior class is the only grade that has had a one complete year that was not affected by the pandemic. This has been a huge issue for each grade since last year classes met only twice a week, and Wednesdays were a day dedicated to getting work done. Now, students are back to the pre-COVID-19 schedule, with diminished free time and higher workloads. According to the survey, 70% of students feel more stressed regarding school this year compared to last year.
“COVID-19 just made everything more difficult, we didn’t really get an [introduction] to high school because our first year was almost all online,” sophomore Zach Rainville said. “Now we have just jumped in this year with everything going back to normal, and it’s hard.”
Not only has the pandemic affected students’ schedules, but so has the common cold. Many students fear that missing any amount of school will affect their grades.
“When I was out sick on Tuesday, I had so much homework and classwork I had to make up,” Alongi said. “The day of when I was planning on going back I wasn’t feeling 100%, but I told my parents I can’t miss another day of school since I have already missed so much. I already had to retake a test on a different day because I missed it. I was already so behind from missing one day of school.”
College has also been a huge aspect of junior and senior stress. Students that are currently going through the application process for college have additional pressures in addition to school work.
“Teachers don’t just lighten up their workload because you have college applications to do,” Melvin said. “I thought that once I was done with my main college essay, I was past the hard part of it, but there’s a lot more that goes into it.”
Students are allowed to take days off to go on college tours. However, they are still expected to complete missed assignments. Juniors like Madeline O’Leary are at the forefront of this stress.
“I have been touring colleges, doing some research and preparing for the SAT, and while that is all very exciting, it adds a new layer of stress as well,” O’ Leary said.
“Despite being over one month into the school year, I feel like I’m still adjusting to the amount of work and activities I have,” sophomore Miriam Gayed said. “Having to deal with this alongside my personal struggles has been a challenge that I’m still overcoming. As someone who also has trouble with time management, I feel overwhelmed with trying to find a balance in my life.”