High Hopes for Year Ahead

A new year is a time to start fresh, a time to reflect on oneself and decide what things in one’s life need to be changed. While there is room for improvement across most if not all aspects of one’s life, it is important to narrow down the scope when setting personal goals. Doing so is necessary
in order to avoid getting overwhelmed and, as a result, discouraged by broad, unreasonable objectives.

We asked our staff what areas they need to work on and the majority of their answers were related, indicating many could benefit from aiming for similar progress.

Some students said they have trouble with placing themselves in others’ shoes and thus need to embrace empathy. They acknowledged that they need to be mindful of what those around them are going through and realize that everyone has their own problems at any given time.

Likewise, staff members said they could benefit from extending empathy towards themselves. Teenagers are no strangers to pressure, especially that which they put upon themselves in terms of school, sports and jobs. Many forget to be kind to themselves and as a result develop a negative self-image. These students would like to practice more self-love and accept that they are only human and cannot be perfect.

Self-compassion was also brought up by students who want to begin putting themselves first. Some said they need to stop allowing themselves to be walked over by others, as well as needing to stop spreading themselves too thin by helping others before themselves – following the principle of putting on one’s own oxygen mask before assisting others with theirs.

Several staff members responded by saying they need to improve their mental and physical health.

Their ideas for doing so involve self-care, for their minds with rest and awareness and for their bodies with a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise routine.

Students want to change their attitudes as well, in particular, their views on life to more optimistic ones. They would like to start looking at every day from a more positive perspective than they typically do in order to be able to appreciate each day they have.

Additionally, our staff spoke of wanting to become carefree. Many students struggle with nerves and over-thinking. They said they need to quit worrying about petty things and begin to give their attention to the things that actually matter.

Our staff also mentioned wanting to change their personalities to become more outgoing and extroverted people who are not afraid to put themselves out there. The idea of such self improvement is often a subject around this time of year. Everyone is setting their new year’s
resolutions and hoping to make this year better than the last. When asked what their resolutions were, our staff’s responses fell under the overarching theme of consistency.

Students want to be consistent with their good habits in the new year, habits such as volunteering, studying and working out. Some students responded with wanting to be motivated and determined as well – things that allow consistency to prosper.

Several of our staff members admit to losing their motivation halfway through activities which results in them abandoning them. Students want to become self-driven, to be strong in their initiative so as not to count on others for finding success.

Others would like to pick up new practices like journaling to get their feelings down on paper and better understand their thoughts. Reading is another thing members want to do more of in the new year. They would like for it to become a source of enjoyment and escapism, something that would allow them to put their phones down and feed their brains.

Staff members want to alter their frame of mind. Instead of longing after the lives of others, students wanted to start romanticizing their own lives – appreciating the beauty of the little things around them. While it is important to work towards self-improvement, it is vital to remember that working on oneself should not be determined by the date. It can be a journey that begins anytime during the course of the year and something that one takes breaks from now and again. A lot of pressure is put on becoming the best version of oneself with the beginning of each new year and that stress can deter people from making any progress at all.

This issue can be aided by setting goals that are both plausible and achievable. It is easy to think big when it comes to goals, and while it may be true that one can do whatever they set their mind to, it is also true that one can get themselves in over their heads.

Planning out a goal into a series of smaller goals can be helpful. When doing this, one is able to celebrate the minor successes that contribute to reaching the overall goal. Students mentioned how this method allows them to see their progress and prompts them to keep working towards what they want to accomplish.

Another way our staff members stay on track to achieve their goals is by finding the right motivation. They find it to help significantly when they ask themselves why they are setting a goal and what the goal will do for them when they reach it – therefore knowing the significance of seeing it through.

Some spoke about how they nudge themselves to keep working towards their goals by setting reminders on their phones and writing notes for themselves in order to remember what they want to achieve.

A good support system can push one to improve themselves also. Our staff thinks it’s a good idea to inform those around them, their family and friends, of their goals. That way, they can be a source of encouragement and maybe even offer a little help.

Measuring one’s success is a critical part of reaping the benefits of one’s goals. This can be done in several different ways.

Our staff members consider themselves successful by their level of personal satisfaction. Even if they have not completed their goals entirely, students say that if they feel good about their progress, they already consider themselves successful to some extent.

Furthermore, one can measure their success in self-improvement and goal-achievement in terms of where they are. One can look at where they were previously and compare it to where they are currently and where they would like to be in the future. Students say they notice how far they have come and how much they have grown when reflecting on their past selves.

While the start of a new year presents a good opportunity to start working on oneself, it can also be a root of stress. It does not have to be, with specific goal setting and a relaxed approach self-improvement taking the pressure off of making progress.

Staff Editorial

Small Changes Could Make a Big Difference

On Tuesday, September 28, a new kind of two-hour delay was started to reward students for no zeros. The idea was to reward those students who have kept up with their work, and give students with missing work the chance to make it up before the end of the nine-weeks.

The effectiveness of this day is something our staff is divided on.

Several of our staff without zeros enjoyed it, and were able to participate in the activities offered or used the time to catch up on homework. But the majority of our staff did not feel it had a significant impact.

In the future we hope our school leaders could plan a field trip or letting the people who have no zeros stay home for the first two hours as an incentive to keep up on schoolwork.

But how can we avoid the need for a day like this in the future? Members of our staff were divided into two main sides: the responsibility should fall on the shoulders of the student and the responsibility should be shared between the educators and students. Our staff offered a few potential solutions.

One change we would like to see made is making assignments due at 11:59 p.m. for all teachers. A consistent turn in time might help us avoid late work penalties. Every student has been in the situation where they get on Google Classroom and see an assignment due at 3:15 p.m. or 8 a.m. the next day. Many of us have felt a collective annoyance at the changing times from class to class because we know our teachers are not going to grade our work at those times. To fix this, assignments need to be made due after school – otherwise students may be forced to use other teachers’ class time to complete their work.

Another popular suggestion was lessening our homework load. After doing assignments all day at school, no one wants to come home and have to put in even more hours of effort into academics. The same can be said for teachers who spend much of their own time outside of school grading assignments and preparing for their lessons. Although in some situations, homework cannot be avoided, but maybe more time could be given to allow students to work through some assignments in class. While students are doing their homework, teachers could catch up on grading or lesson planning. Another solution given was to allow students to have all of their homeroom to work, instead of making us do activities which take away from studying.

A few students feel a change in our learning environment, both physically and mentally, could be improved. In terms of physical discomfort, the constant variation in temperature was brought up. It is very difficult to learn when we are shivering from the cold in one room and sweating profusely in the next.

Similarly, many students feel uncomfortable asking questions in classes because they are afraid of being embarrassed, whether by their classmates or even teachers. This leads to a lack of clarity on subjects which snowballs as the year goes on and increases the chances of failure. In order to stop this and help students to get a full understanding, each classroom needs to feel like a safe and positive space which supports the asking of questions.

It’s hard for us to not feel like we are more than just a potential detention, rule-breaker, or criminal. We understand the need to follow rules in order to become law-abiding citizens, but continual condemnation takes a toll on us all, especially those of us who are not apart of this small group of rule violators. It is crucial to find a happy medium between constructive criticism and rewarding reminders. We believe teachers and administrators could concentrate on more positive things like students who have been performing well academically and those who have made improvements. Hearing others being praised for their accomplishments will encourage others to push themselves harder for the same validation, and make it known the effort we put into school does not go unseen.

Having no motivation was mutually agreed upon the reason for student failure. Many students believe how they do in school won’t affect their lives, and don’t have clear goals they are inspired to reach. We asked our staff what they use to drive themselves to get their work done – even when it gets hard. Several students had simple answers like practicing good habits such as using agendas and calendars in order to get an idea of what they need to complete and prevent themselves from forgetting something and in turn stressing over it.

Others said they just get it done, even if they procrastinate until the last minute, they are aware of the importance of their assignments and make it come together in the end. Even if you don’t complete an assignment, just doing half of it is better than none. That 50% won’t hurt your grade as much as a zero.

The majority of our staff members said focusing on the future is the most helpful thing for them – by thinking about the consequences that will occur if they don’t do their work. One student mentioned incorporating a method they used at their old school which involved making an index card or a slideshow that listed the things they wanted in the future (ex: a college degree, a big house, a specific job) and what they needed to do in order to get there. It all starts here at school, acquiring habits and strategies which will help us throughout our lives. After all, as soon as we graduate, how we did in
school gives us the options for our futures.

Staff Editorial