Congratulations to May's Student Voices writer, Rylee Booth, a student at the Montrose School in Medfield. You can check out Rylee's article published on BostonHerald.com here.
Read what students had to say when given the chance to write about a topic of their choice for May's Student Voices prompt:
College Bound Athletes Feel High School Stress, by Rylee Booth of the Montrose School in Medfield
While seniors applying to college face strains, college-bound athletes face multi-year strains.
College coaches begin recruiting when talented high school athletes are in 10th grade, and student athletes are under pressure to begin researching and visiting colleges earlier than their peers.
During the spring season for club sports, players are expected to email coaches and go to ID camps. At ID camps, student athletes hope to get noticed by coaches. Scouts also show up at high school and club team games, which adds to the pressures student-athletes face. They want to contribute to
their team, but they also have extra eyes examining their moves.
Not only are athletes scrutinized, but so are their grades. Worst of all is the fear of injury, which can dampen college playing opportunities. Many student-athletes run the risk of having their offers withdrawn, which adds another level of stress to the process. Once someone makes a verbal commitment to a school, they are not allowed to talk to any other schools. That means that if the player does not get accepted, they must start over from square one looking to find somewhere to play, or must accept going to a school without playing a collegiate-level sport.
Division 1 college athlete Olivia Aha, a Montrose School graduate who has played as a starter since freshman year at the University of Richmond in Virginia, said the payoff is worth the stress. She said, “If you are thinking about becoming a student-athlete in college, think about if the choice is what you want. But, if you know that you love your sport, it will be the most amazing experience to get to that next level in college.”
Can Boston Go Green in a White Winter? by Katrin O’Grady of the Montrose School in Medfield
It’s everywhere -- on our floors, on our walkways, even on our cars: road salt, the savior of the morning commuters and the bane of environmentalists. In and around Boston, it is hard to imagine coping with Nor'easters without salting roads and sidewalks.
Most drivers agree that salt is a life-saver. Montrose School high school senior Sarah Morrill of Southborough said that salt “is a great innovation for keeping the roads safe. When I drive on roads that are not salted, I feel very unsafe.” Maddie Crump, a Montrose student from Norfolk, disagreed: “Salt endangers our waterways through gradual runoff. We need to find another, more eco-friendly way to melt dangerous road ice.”
According to a January 2014 article on Smithsonian.com, roadways in American dump on average 137 pounds of salt on roadways for each person who lives in the US. Imagine the pounds of sodium dumped in the region this winter.
Excess salt on Boston roadways leads to runoff into surrounding bodies of water, including ground water. Many of today’s urban waterways have salt levels above the safe guidelines. Can Bostonians avoid this health hazard? There needs to be a balance between keeping the roads and the environment safe.
The key is not being wasteful. There are plenty of roads and sidewalks that workers could treat with sand, which adds grip but does not melt the ice. Salt should still be used for dangerous areas such as major roads or sharp corners, and other treatments such as sand can be used for less perilous areas. Innovative mixtures include beet juice and other natural products that reduce sodium content. Safety concerns include waterways as well as human concerns. If sand can be used without compromising safety, than it is the better option for the city as a whole.
Media Magnifies College Drinking and Rape Culture, by Monica Stack of the Montrose School in Medfield
It seems that every news cycle includes another horror story of rape at one of our nation’s 4,000 plus institutions of higher learning.
Among my college and college-bound friends, many avoid colleges with “party school” reputations. Regardless of academics, college cultures centered on partying add risk, especially for girls. College parties can turn from fun to frightening in seconds and attending a school whose culture revolves around such a volatile environment invokes fear.
Girls must confront the statistic that 20% of female college students will be the victim of rape or attempted rape. This 20% statistic includes both drunken sex and violent sexual assault. In turn, standard advice for rising college freshman has changed from “stay in school” to “don’t let your drink out of your sight.”
Increasingly, the media presents substance abuse and rape as norms on campus; this is not helping the cause. Rather, it’s conditioning a new generation of college students to expect such an environment. Hannah O’Day, a senior at Boston College, said, “As for that statistic, rape is defined as non-consensual sex; and, with drinking in the mix, that can happen easily.”
O’Day added that colleges are working hard to combat the unsavory college culture: “There are so many resources - bystander intervention week, as well as the force of the anti-rape and anti-sexual assault initiatives.” These saving resources should be the focus of every news story.
Our culture needs to shift its mentality from magnifying the problem to supporting solutions. As has been the mantra of the anti-rape campaign, every rape should be reported and every perpetrator should be punished. Further, we should treat every rape not as simply disheartening proof of some statistic but an individual event involving a perpetrator who deserves retribution and a victim who deserves support, compassion and protection.
SAT’s: Do the Ends Justify the Means? by Margaret Sparicio of the Montrose School in Medfield
By now, juniors and seniors across the United States have either experienced or are experiencing the stress of preparing for the College Board Scholastic Achievement Test (SAT). As universities become increasingly selective, competition and stress mounts for students. Some parents pay thousands of dollars for private tutors, in the hope of boosting their children’s scores.
This begs the question: How much is too much? The average cost for private SAT tutoring can easily cost $125 dollars per hour and private tutoring has been considered the best method to get prep support. Classes with Princeton Review and Kaplan usually cost $800 to $1500 for 18 hours of tutoring. With private tutoring, 18 hours of instruction would cost $2250.
An Ohio State University study reported that student score increases average 30 to 80 points higher after private tutoring. That means each additional point costs you between $28 and $75.
Montrose School senior Madeline Reilly of Medfield signed up for an SAT course between registering to take two SAT tests. She reported: “Personally, I don’t think my course was worth its cost. Although the course did help me to understand the format of the test so that I knew what to expect, it didn't necessarily improve my scores.”
With studies establishing a low return for investment on SAT prep, reason should make parents skeptical. However, the test prep marketers capitalize on fears and aspirations. Parents and students want a “best” college placement and all test takers fear low results.
How can students resist the racket? The College Board has provided free online tutoring with the help of Khan Academy. That seems to be the best return for investment when it comes to SAT prep.
Teens Need to Take Charge of Stress Before Adulthood, by Marie Lacke of the Montrose School in Medfield
The 2014 American Psychology Association “Stress in America” report reveals that 27% of teens report feeling extreme stress. The study highlights how teens mirror adult stress, with serious implications for health and wellness. Teens need to learn that stress can be controlled and they should learn how to manage stress earlier rather than later.
Rylee Booth, a 16-year old Montrose School student from Millis, MA pinpoints procrastination as the problem she needs to control to manage stress. She said: “I had a French paper due, and I had over a week to complete it. But, instead of staying focused throughout the week to consistently work on it, I saved the majority of it for the night before. I got really stressed so I procrastinated and put it off until 10:00pm. I didn’t get much sleep that night and regretted not finishing the paper earlier.” Procrastination is also a problem teens share with adults.
But more unique to high school students is the epidemic of self-harm behavior, such as cutting, to “cope” with emotions surrounding stress. A recent study notes that as many as 2 in 10 girls practice cutting behavior when under stress.
To resist stress requires a counter-cultural mindset. Rather than harm yourself, punch a pillow. Rather than surge with anxiety, jog for 15 minutes, take a nap or practice deep breathing. Ultimately, America’s culture of stress can only be resolved by each person learning how to cope. Everyone knows healthy vs. unhealthy coping strategies. Make the healthy choice and improve your present life as a teen as well as your adult future.
Counting Down, by Madeline Reilly of the Montrose School in Medfield
The countdown to spring has come and gone and by all accounts it’s still winter. I glanced at my friend’s computer, which features more than five clocks counting down: 52 days until Mother’s Day, 67 days until Memorial Day, 95 days until June 21st and summer. What is our obsession with counting all about?
“Make it count!” This term can be substituted for “make it worth it.” Counting then is synonymous with worth, ability, and success.
Recently, my classmate and I stuck the “34th" day sign on the wall leading to our lockers. It’s a tradition each year for the seniors to put colorful number signs around the school to mark their days until they finish high school.
Re-evaluating what and why we are counting will help us understand that we should not fall into the risk of wishing our lives away. Counting down often implies that the seemingly uneventful passing days are not worth it, do not “count” or are not beneficial to us. This negative use of the term should be eradicated from our vocabularies to allow a shift in our mindsets.
There is beauty in the present moment, and while the many feet of snow covered in salt and dirt, and yards ripped up by plows would have us think otherwise, there are benefits of living in the moment and not dwelling on the future.
For one, we are able to experience our lives to the fullest, accepting each day as a gift. After all, it is the present.