Survey Says: We Need Help

Hannon is Stressed — And You Are Too

Recently, I sent out a survey to staff and students asking two questions: on a scale of one to five, how overwhelmed are you on a day-to-day basis, and what do you do to cope with that stress. The results were concerning. Of the 169 who replied, 82.7 percent of those surveyed placed themselves at a three or higher for how overwhelmed they feel.

For the second question, “What do you do to cope with stress?” there were two common answers that really stood out. One was that many people turn to music to help them deal with their stressors and emotions.

Music Helps

This is not a new strategy unique to our school. According to research done by the American Psychological Association, listening to music increases the body’s production of antibodies and reduces stress hormone levels. Students may not understand the science behind it, but they know that music has a powerful effect on how they feel. As a music student, I have firsthand experience with the benefits of music. Playing my instrument is always therapeutic, as it is something I do not have to think about. I can just let my feelings flow through me and come out as something beautiful. When it is not convenient to play an instrument, just popping in my earbuds and listening to my favorite albums and instrumental music helps improve my mood and takes my mind off of things.

On Earbuds

Our current policy prohibits headphones in the classroom and blocks most streaming services on student Chromebooks. Could a change to the headphone policy provide a resource for students who could benefit from the stress-relieving properties of listening to music?

In my opinion, yes. I believe our policy should be updated to make music more accessible to students whenever there is time to do so without the possibility of classroom disruption.

Mindfulness

Other than listening to music, the answer that really stood out was that many students just do not know how to cope with being overwhelmed. They do not have the tools to help them get through tough situations. This is concerning, as students and teachers alike are under rigorous performance standards, and with no way to deal with that stress, it can have negative effects. There is a possible solution to this issue that has already been implemented at Throop.

Kara Schmidt, a community member and founder of SoINBody, began working with elementary students before the pandemic, teaching them mindfulness and yoga skills. She also did a trial run with Carol Fullington’s 2019- 2020 speech classes, coming in twice a week to practice mindfulness and yoga with high school students. I had the opportunity to be in that speech class, and those mindfulness lessons were some of the most helpful things I have learned in my high school career. I think this sort of experience should be available for all students at the high school, seeing as we are more vulnerable to mental strain as a result of our education. The easiest option would be to create a mindfulness club which meets once a week during homeroom or even after school, giving students a chance to take a break and practice something that could be beneficial for them.

Talking about mindfulness can be difficult because there is just not enough common knowledge on the subject for most people to really know much about it and how to practice it. However, if the school implemented new policies and programs which had students’ best interests in mind, and that engaged in mindfulness improvement, we might see our data shift in a more positive direction.

Story by Michael Hannon

Step Away from the Screen

Platforms Become More Toxic When Mixed with Misinformation

Since the very birth of social media, it’s use has been a highly debated and controversial topic. It’s destructive – rotting youth’s brains, destroying their capacity for empathy, ruining people’s ability to distinguish between what’s real and what’s fake. We’ve heard it all. On the other hand nothing can bring people together quite like the latest Tik Tok dance trend.

No one is more aware of the impact of social media than the most active users: teenagers (that’s us!). Because we are so often engaged in social media, we know firsthand the impact it can have on our lives. It’s no secret what’s going on in the head of a teen isn’t always pretty and the majority of us struggle with our mental stability on a daily basis. Many times, the issues can be traced back to social media and its hold on us.

Common byproducts of social media usage are not limited to depression, anxiety, body dysmorphia, eating disorders, etc. These occur in response to the content we’re being presented with, whether it’s false narratives on issues related to health care being pushed, the consumption of overwhelmingly hateful material, or a more personal encounter of online drama and cyberbullying.

Quarantine

Especially now, in the midst of a pandemic, we are susceptible to a decline in emotional well-being and either the influx of new mental illness symptoms or the worsening of preexisting ones. Coupled with exposure to the toxicity of online platforms, our online world is a lethal combination with the potential to lead one down a very difficult path.

When quarantined, we spent enormous amounts of time scrolling through feeds and this increase in screen-time on social apps can be extremely detrimental to one’s state of mind – depending on what it is you’re looking at.

Staff’s Answer’s

Since our staff consists solely of teenage students, we thought they’d be the perfect people to ask for opinions on and personal experiences with social media.

We asked which social media platform our staff found to be the most toxic and the answers were all over the place. Several students said Instagram, due to the false image many users convey and the use of editing apps like FaceTune that take it even further. Some replied with TikTok because of the diversity of views on different subjects and the tendencies of people to attack those with perspectives other than their own. Twitter and Facebook were mentioned for the seemingly constant gossip on them. Students also said Snapchat because of the anonymity of the platform and the fact users so often bash other users on it.

On Being Aware

On the contrary to the leisurely use of social media, we rely on social media to receive our news and get the latest updates – now more than ever. In the age of the coronavirus, factual accuracy is of the utmost importance. One would think that would be easy to determine, right? Wrong. So much misinformation is spread which can easily fool people, whether you’re typically naive or not. This can be extremely harmful for people who take highly liked posts as gospel and take advice for things off of platforms without checking up on the source or consulting anyone else.

People take advice everyday for physical health, mental health, etc. that could seriously hurt them. For example, someone might watch a TikTok on how someone lost a lot of weight and follow that person’s routine when it may not be right for them physically or mentally. This can lead to eating disorders and other health issues. People give mental health advice as well, making others think that professional help isn’t necessary and likely making their problems worse.

The Upside

Although there are probably more negative sides of social media than you can count, it has its perks too. Mainly, people are able to stay connected with one another. This was particularly evident in 2020, when families and friends were separated all over the world without much ability to remain active in each other’s lives. So many moments were missed in-person due to the coronavirus, though they were posted on social media platforms for those people to see. It may not have been the same as if they’d been there physically, but it was better than nothing as one of the only forms of interaction available.

Social media has its upsides and downsides, but overall the emphasis should be put on the mindset and attitude of the user.

We are responsible for how we approach social media, how seriously we take it. It is our job to always be mindful of the content we’re consuming, however significant or trivial, whether it’s a news report or a TikTok gag. In order to protect our mental health and prevent ourselves from contributing to the spread of false information, we’ve got to stay aware.

Staff Editorial

Walls a Sucker for Her Eyes

I’ve always been a sucker for psychological thrillers. “Bird Box”, “Ma”, and “The Conjuring” are just a few of my favorites. Yet out of all the suspenseful shows I am madly in love with, I have recently fallen deeply for a new series, called “Behind Her Eyes”. This Netflix original is based on the novel written by Sarah Pinborough, with all the same expectations and cliffhangers. I’m not one to rewatch a show or series, but this show – especially the ending – made me restart from the beginning immediately. That’s just how surprising and jaw-dropping the finale left me. (I promise, no spoilers to follow… just reasons for you to watch.)

The Plot

Louise is a single mom who works as a secretary at a psychiatrist’s office. It all started when she got stood up on her date at the pub. Just as she was about to give up and head home, she ran into a dark, handsome man named David, new in town and in need of company. The two had an undeniable spark… until their goodbye kiss was interrupted by David’s sudden regret and rushed departure. Confused and dejected, Louise continues about her days. Prior to the next day at work when she discovered the new psychiatrist was (you guessed it) David. Ignoring the inconvenient circumstances, one morning on her way home from dropping her son off at school, Louise coincidentally (or so we think) ran into David’s wife of ten years, Adele. Oddly enough, these two also hit it off, and become closer friends than Louise would have imagined. Things continue to get messier; Louise begins to have an affair with David, Adele and Louise start to spend more time together, and secrets only get worse. Keeping both of these relationships private from the other, Louise doesn’t realize what she has truly gotten herself into until it’s too late.

Everything from the settings and actors to the plot kept me hooked until the very end. The foreshadowing is insanely clever, and the last episode will leave you sitting in silence trying to process everything you just absorbed. I totally recommend this show to people who like magical, majestic mysteries. This is one of those shows where the conspiracy theories are endless and you won’t be able to stop talking about it.

Story by Gracie Walls

Hidden Figures: Challenging Stereotypes

Hidden Figures is a phenomenal historical movie that shows how to stand up for racism and how to show your strength in the academic and physical fields. It also shows how woman human computers help to get an astronaut into space.

In the movie, it starts out showing an exceptionally smart girl. Katherine Johnson, played by Taraji P. Henson, gets asked to go to college algebra courses. This movie is based off of a non-fiction book, written by Margot Lee Shetterly. The movie, directed by Theodore Melfi, is rated PG. This movie was released in theaters on December 25, 2016.

Johnson goes off to NASA to be a human computer with two other friends: Mary Jackson,  played by Janelle Monae, and Dorothy Vaughan, played Octavia Spencer. Other main characters include Al Harrison, played by Kevin Costner, and John Glenn, played by Glen Powell. These women go off to do great things for NASA such as: help build a huge computer, do amazing algebraic problems, be the first woman engineers, and become the most brilliant brains in the NASA association.

These ladies had a very rough time getting promotions since they were human computers, but when they did get promotions they showed all the people who doubted their skills who’s the smartest. The boss’s assistant went to get someone from the human computers to do algebraic equations. Johnson got this job to see where the astronaut was going to land, how they’re going to lift off with an orbital rotation, and how to get out of orbit. Johnson, the one conducting all these equations, became very familiar with what she had to do and came up with the formula to do so.

Katherine Johnson became the most important person to John Glenn’s flight, Glenn would not take off until Johnson confirmed the calculations from the new computer system. Johnson’s calculations matched those of the computer, except with a higher accuracy. Ensured that the calculations were correct, they launched Glenn who came back successful. During the launch however Glenn’s hot air pocket came open, and so he did what he had to do to become safe again.

One of my favorite parts in this movie is when Mary Jackson is asked to become the first woman engineer, but she had to complete some courses at a high school to become this engineer she was asked to be. So, Jackson went off to make a court date to proceed with her being the first African American to go to an all Caucasian school; this school did not allow African Americans to attend the school at the time. Jackson did this so she could get her high school credits that she needs to be able to go into this field.

Dorothy Vaughan was the technical supervisor of the human computers, but never got the official promotion. Vaughan really wanted this promotion, so when the new computers came in, the gentlemen putting them together weren’t working on getting the other computer up and running. So Vaughan began working on this computer herself, she worked on it until she got the proper numbers coming out of the computer. Vaughan then became the supervisor of the computer department, she brought all her human computers with her to run this system so none of them would lose their jobs because new systems were in.

The movie was a show stopper, it got you up on your feet and had an amazing story line, very unpredictable and well-acted. This movie had some emotional parts, especially since these three amazing women never gave up on what they wanted. I really liked this movie because it showed strong women being the best at what they do and helping make the first astronaut go into space. This would be a great movie for everyone to watch, not only for its historical perspective, but for its themes of leadership and importance.

Story by Kinsey McBride