School makes positive academic and scheduling changes in response to student stress

Sarah Augustine, Photo/art editor

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Between academic stress, outside activities, and personal lives, there is a lot on students’ minds as they navigate their high school careers. Therefore, WHS made adjustments to positively affect students’ lives in three key ways; the incorporation of the late start time, the removal of the weighted GPA, and the addition of advisory to student schedules.

In order to gather data regarding student stress, principal Anthony Parker asked students to take a life survey. The survey revealed that 49% of WHS students are highly stressed, and only receive an average of 7.15 hours of sleep, leading to low energy levels. Many cited the competitive academic environment of WHS as a stressor in students’ lives.

“The amount of pressure that is put on kids here on all levels is sometimes insane. The feeling of competition between students is not only placed on students within the school, but also by parents on students, as well as students placing it on themselves,” English teacher Mathew Henry said.

Similarly, science teacher Christine Chiodo expressed that the combination of school with extracurricular activities can contribute to student stress.

“Trying to juggle their schedules and their responsibilities on top of their extracurriculars and the stress of keeping that together is overwhelming. There are a lot of responsibilities outside of school and it can take a toll on students,” Chiodo said. 

In addition to the stress teachers observe in school, many students described the impact of these pressures.

“The ongoing pressure to push yourself to the very limit [is stressful]. I feel like this school is made to be too competitive. People have forgotten the value in learning rather than putting yourself through the hardest classes,” senior Cole Zetterquist stated.

As a result of the data from the survey and in response to the problems it unearthed, the school has adjusted to start of school to 8:45am. 

“I have definitely seen people being more awake and ready to start the day in their first blocks because of the late start time and the extra sleep that they have gotten,” junior Mia Lambert said. “I also think that W block has been so incredibly helpful because people can go meet with their teachers at a set time that they both have available. It is also a great time for study sessions.” 

Although advisory was developed five years ago, many students believe the addition of advisories has lead to positive peer interactions. 

I think the addition of advisories is a positive addition as it is a time in the middle of the school day to take a mental break and connect with classmates, some of whom you may never otherwise see,” Joglekar said. 

These changes are leading to more chances for student-teacher interactions, thus fostering deeper connections between faculty and students. 

“There is academic benefit. Studies have shown that it is easier to learn from somebody that you have some sort of connection with,” Henry said. “Human interactions and connections that are positive is a value in it of itself. If you get to know other people better, you can see people as people who are worthy of love, affection and care and then also see yourself in the same way.”