Accomplishment: Worth


Caitlin Buchanan

Marie Gaudin (’16) competes in a track event on March 24th.

Think of a time when you were successful. A time when you had just accomplished something–big or small, it doesn’t matter; what matters is that it was important to you. Think of a time when you were on top of the world.

Now think about that accomplishment, that feeling, and imagine if you were told it didn’t matter. Imagine if you were told that even though you’ve accomplished something monumental, something of infinite importance to you, you still have miles more to go before you’ve really accomplished anything.

High school students face this not-so-fictional scenario everyday. If they’ve just aced a test, a feat that many would say is a true accomplishment, they’re told to dive right in to the next unit and do it all over again. If they’ve just accepted an award, the next step is to win something better, something greater.

This cycle is taking it’s toll on students. According to a report published in Psychology Today, the average high school student in today’s academic climate has the same amount of anxiety as a psychiatric patient did in the 1950’s.

Raiven Yoes, a senior and a 4.0 student at AHS, said that her stress level is definitely a high one. “It’s most stressful during the winter months,” said Yoes. “There’s not a lot of sun outside at that point in the school year when it’s all starting to make sense but it’s not coming together yet.” Yoes also pointed to studying long past the bell rings at 2:30 as a reason for students’ stress. “There’s a lot of late nights,” she said. “Late nights aren’t just for students who get the best grades; they’re for students who are trying to understand something they don’t.”

It seems that, nowadays, no matter how well you’re doing or how good you are at something, there is always something that you’re not doing well enough; something that you have to better at.

But the belief that there’s always something better to accomplish isn’t a bad thing. The very real scenario that you could do your best and still not truly accomplish anything, however, is.

Marie Gaudin (’16) is a cross country runner and a track and field athlete who competes at the varsity level in both sports. While Gaudin holds two school records for track–she ran a 5:10 in the 1600 meter and a 11:18 in the 3200 meter–she still feels uncertain about her accomplishments. “I don’t really feel like I have my life together,” said Gaudin.

Students, especially seniors, are being pressured to work hard then ever. What does this mean? It means more time doing homework, more time studying, and less time doing the things that students want to do. It means less time for playing outside with friends or reading a book; it means being conditioned to accept that the only that that success equates to is scoring the highest on a test.

Junior Aden Keating is one student who was able to find success at AHS in one avenue. Keating, who describes the word accomplishment as “completing something,” said that the biggest accomplishment so far in his high school career was, “passing the scholarly paper on the first try.”

But just because students are living up to the ever-increasing bar of success doesn’t mean it’s paying off. With schools like AHS having unweighted GPA policies, a few B’s in those college-level classes “tanking” your GPA could mean the difference between getting a scholarship and not. Additionally, college tuition is higher then ever; according to US News and World Reports, in-state tuition alone is nearly $9,000 a year.

The road to accomplishment is lined with hurdles and gaping potholes. And if you aren’t able to jump over every hurdle and doge every single pothole with expert precision, and beat out all of your competitors, then you’ll be left in the dust.

“Whenever I feel like I have my ducks in a row one goes and dies on me,” said Gaudin.