When to put down the pencil

When to put down the pencil

Jennifer Fowler, Editor-in-Chief

After a long day of note taking, reading, and concentration, Ashley Tate shuffles her pile of homework assignments and shoves them into her bag. She has nothing on her mind but diving for a ball on the gym floor.

The senior claims that she’s always been able to handle stress, and that there’s nothing she hasn’t been able to do.

“I’ve been playing volleyball for four years, and I love it. I wouldn’t give it up.”

Along with being on the varsity volleyball team, Tate has a part-time job at Gateway Arch Riverboats, and says she works shifts up to 12 hours on weekends. She also makes time for homework, having only two honors classes this year instead of four.

Tate, along with a multitude of high school students all deal with a certain level of stress, and North’s students are no exception. Whether it’s bubbling at their breaking point, or is barely noticeable, many students harbor duties including honors classes, playing a sport, having a job, or all three.

The senior says that being in honors classes forces you to be more independent, and not babied by a teacher.

“I like being in honors classes because they challenge you, instead of having to sit and stare at the wall,” she says. “You just have to study and pay attention, and do the tests and the papers. Because those ultimately make up the class.”

Being in French 5 and AP Literature don’t phase Tate, as she devotes herself to volleyball and wouldn’t be willing to quit her job.

“I think I can handle it. My life has never been that stressful.”

Anahi Aviles waits for the final bell to ring, as she prepares to immerse herself in pure sweat and dedication. Her purse is straining with books as she thinks of all the notes she has to take tonight. After volleyball practice, it’s all focus.

Aviles likes being challenged by her honors classes, as she also juggles playing volleyball and having a job. She takes Honors Biology, Honors British Literature, Honors World History, and Pre-Calculus, and has traded in her lifeguard job for working at a flower shop.

“I like being busy. But school always comes first for me, and I manage a schedule now,” the junior says.

Aviles says her time after school consists of going to practice, eating, showering, then being holed up with homework until around 11:00.

“If I didn’t play sports I could start my homework earlier. When I come home, I’m physically tired. I’m lucky if I get in bed before 12:00.”

Regardless of how swamped she is with work, Aviles feels that slacking off won’t benefit you. Harder classes require more focus and effort.

“You can learn more in honors classes, but they also require self-teaching. They expect you do your work. No spacing out.”

She’s always conscious of her limits, and admits that when things become too much, she’ll take a much deserved break.

Lauryn Hudson sighs as she drags her gym bag into the bathroom to change. Her shoulders ache from carrying book after book, and her head is spinning from the astonishing amount of homework she’s been assigned. Though she doesn’t practice softball with any less drive.

Hudson seems to have the most on her plate, as she’s entered her 10th grade year with five honors classes.

“I think it’s hard,” the sophomore says. “But I think you can do it if you work hard and pay attention. You’re expected to work as if you’re on a higher level, and do things as if they have meaning.”

Hudson also plays for North’s softball team, and her love of the sport eats up two hours of her day.

“I go from practice to open gym, and that ends at about 7:30. I get home and about 8:30 and do homework until 10.”

The sophomore confesses that sometimes the expectations build up, but that she’s never felt like a stressful person.

“The homework I get is either a lot, or homework that takes a long time. It’s like that in most of my classes.”

Hudson claims that she’d never give up softball if things became too stressful, unless she was forced to.

“I think I can handle it. If you just do your work, eventually it’s over with,” she says.

Even while taking American Studies, Spanish 3, Honors Algebra 2, and Honors Orchestra, Hudson still finds ways to relax, and isn’t bothered by her amassing duties.

As high school progresses, responsibilities become apparent and stress becomes something that’s hardly escapable. You’re forced to make decision and prioritize your demands every day. Whether they include loads of schoolwork or a sport that keeps you rasping until the sun goes down. Though it may seem impossible to manage, it’ll always become easier. In the midst of stress overload, there’s always time to be made to relax. Go out with your friends to the movies, or take off work for the weekend. Put the pencil aside.