Life-threatening allergic reactions can be prevented with EpiPen education



At the age of twelve, I vividly recall being rushed to the hospital where I was given a double dose of Benadryl and monitored until I was in stable condition and my hives subsided. In that moment, I had absolutely no idea what I consumed that sent me into anaphylactic shock. After hours of concern and physical pain, I realized the pistachio shavings used to garnish the meal I ordered were the reason behind my reaction.

Every three minutes, a food prompted allergic reaction sends someone to the emergency room. Roughly 40 percent of these cases are patients in anaphylactic shock an allergic reaction with potentially fatal symptoms like throat closure and inflammation of the tongue and mouth.The only way to stop this reaction is by directly injecting epinephrine into the thigh. Usually more than one injection dosage is needed to terminate the reaction, which is why auto-injectors are now sold in packs of two across the United States. EpiPen is the most common brand of epinephrine auto injectors and they are essential in these emergency situations and should be made more readily accessible by teachers, students and administrative figures in schools immediately. In addition, a broader education regarding warning signs for those who are going into anaphylactic shock and how to handle the situation are necessary.

Upon initial signs of allergic reaction, many individuals are unaware they have a life threatening allergy that requires instant treatment. According to the Center for Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), approximately 20-25 percent of epinephrine administrations in schools involve individuals whose allergy was unknown at the time of the reaction. For this reason, all teachers and school employees should be required to carry auto-injectors with them, or have them readily accessible in the classroom. In the commercial restaurant industry, any operation that is selling any sort of food is required to have an auto-injector on site. This same principle should be applied in schools across the nation for the simple reason that many students are unfortunately unaware of their allergies and having the epinephrine on site could save someone’s life.

Considering the life-threatening challenges that allergies may present, classrooms should be made more allergy-friendly. Although many elementary schools have a “peanut free” table in the lunchroom, this is not sufficient protection for those students who suffer from severe allergies considering many individuals are unaware they even have life threatening allergies. In a study conducted by FARE, about one in three children with food allergies report being bullied as a result of their condition and children with food allergies are twice as likely to be bullied in school settings from the age of six to 18.Ostracizing students with allergies is not the solution whatsoever. Sitting alone at the nut-free table from the ages of four to seven did not do anything to help me when my reading buddy opened up a package of peanut butter crackers next to me during class in third grade, which triggered one of my many reactions since my diagnosis.

A broader education must be administeredregarding how to handle these types of situations in the case that a student does come into contact with an allergen. Nut-free lunch tables are beneficial to a certain extent, but for those students who are allergic and do happen to come into contact withallergens outside the classroom setting, there should always be school employees readily available and capable of administering treatment after recognizing initial symptoms.

The problem of anaphylactic allergies does not have a simple solution.Roughly two students in every classroom have allergies. Given the fact that there is currently no cure for life threatening allergies, a greater education on behalf of students and teachers and accessibility of auto-injectors is mandatory in controlling preventable allergic accidents in schools.

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Flash of Brilliance: Should college applications require supplemental essays?


Applying to college is a stressful time for seniors, and supplemental essays are a chance for the Admissions Office to see the student for who they are. Students applying to schools that have required writing pieces can reuse them, so they don’t need to spend hours working on 500-word, extra essays. Students should write about themselves and what makes them unique. Colleges are able to learn about a life story, a learning disability or even a health issue through one’s essays.  As these events shape us into who we are, this could be a factor as to why we are choosing a certain path in life. Personally,I want to study medicine because my grandma passed away from cancer, and the effect this had on my family is something I want to share with the admissions department. Through the Common and Coalition Applications, students have the opportunity to share a personal experience with the admissions council depending on the colleges to which they are applying. An essay does not necessarily prove that a student has what it takes to be the perfect “fit” for the school, but it shows the experiences that made an applicant the person that they are today. One cannot simply get to know a person by their grades, but they can by their story, which supplemental essays help individuals share.

-Remi Schwartz



When applying to colleges via one of the general applications (traditionally through Common or Coalition), students are required to write a personal essay about themselves and how they have been shaped to be the person they are today. This allows colleges to get to know the student and see if he or she will be a strong “fit” for the school based on one essay. Students can dedicate time and effort into their personal essay, which most colleges require, instead of having the additional worry of supplementals. Colleges are academic institutions, so one’s rigor, grades and schooling are important when accepting a student; however, the one personal essay is enough to showcase their personality. Supplemental essays are unnecessary additions to the application process and students should not be required to complete them. Schools are getting more difficult to get into every year, so they are looking for the best, academically, when deciding which students to accept. Although classes do not equate to everything in terms of acceptances, it is an important factor when admitting students as it helps the schools ensure the student will be successful when taking college level courses. Seniors have enough stress applying to schools and seeing all their hard work through high school determine their future, so they don’t need the additional hardship of supplemental essays.

-Alexis Epstein

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Technology enhances classroom cheating opportunities

It is not uncommon to find students in the average high school or college classroom utilizing devices such as laptops, smartwatches, smartphones and tablets during educational instruction times. With increased prominence of technology in schools, students are given greater opportunities to collaborate with one another, explore new topics, help the environment and learn from peers, as well as other teachers around the globe.However, smart devices also give students the ability to access photos and other information without the teacher’s awareness. Unfortunately, this opportunity also brings about the potential for distraction during critical instructional time and the increased ease by which students can cheat.

In class, students can take notes, edit work and collaborate with others all on their devices, rather than the conventional pen and paper method. Applications like Google Docs and Google Drive allow individuals to share work that they complete online, promoting learning with and from others interested in the same area of study. In a research project conducted by EdTech focus on K-12 education, researcher Correy Murray found that 74 percent of teachers polled stated technology is critical in expanding on classroom content and motivating individuals. Resources such as Crash Course Youtube videos have proven beneficial in terms of instructing content that may have been missed, or even as a form of review for those looking to cram information. Additionally, 73 percent of those surveyed claimed that it helps teachers and their students respond to new learning styles. Students can pick up information they may have missed with the use of computer systems and reiterate upon material from class.

Not only are these enhanced learning opportunities advantageous in the learning process, students and teachers alike are also helping the environment, one printed handout at a time. According to a study conducted by, the average student uses 833 sheets of paper per school year, equating to approximately eight percent of a tree. When teachers make the executive decision to switch from paper tests, assignments and handouts to online resources, they are also significantly benefiting the environment. This same concept applies to the student as well. By taking paperless notes, one can save the planet while simultaneously keeping up with the times by following trends in electronics and technology.

While the benefits of collaboration and the positive environmental impact do prove helpful in many scenarios, the utilization of smart devices grants students increased cheating opportunities as well as potential distractions during class time. When teachers permit students to use their own personal laptops, for example, the instructor is unable to monitor the screen from their external device. Therefore, the students have the ability to open another tab and search for information that may not be permitted for the purpose of that assignment. In present day, many smartwatches have photo features, as well as cellular features, thus heightening the prospect for individuals to find means to seek external help during examination time. Although this challenge may be ever growing, the ultimate authority in the classroom lies in the hands of the teacher and through regulations such as “tech-free times” or policies like no smart devices during exams, students and teachers will be able to reach a fine balance.

In light of the benefits students, teachers and the environment can derive from accepting the increased availability of technology in schools, individuals should accept this resource and learn to work with it strategically for optimum success.


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Night alone in woods strengthens relationship with nature


This summer, I embarked on my ‘senior’ year at Camp Barney Medintz, a sleep away camp located in Cleveland, GA. During the summer between freshman and sophomore year in high school, campers graduate to a new unit called Juniors in Training (JIT). Instead of being in a wooden cabin with 11 girls and 2 counselors, JIT’s live in a permanent tent with 3 other girls and participate in many different activities that make this summer different from any other.

One of the unique activities JIT’s participate in is called SOLO, a period where all participants spend a night in the woods alone. During this once in a lifetime opportunity, campers spend 24 hours by themselves where they are responsible for making a fire, preparing food and essentially surviving by themselves. One intriguing aspect of this experience is that SOLO can be declared at any time. When a senior counselor calls SOLO, all 82 JITs have 15 minutes to sprint back to the tents, pack all materials and run back to the main road at camp for departure.

On the afternoon of July 10th, two of the staff members caused a disruption at lunch to draw everyone’s attention, right before they called SOLO. As I ran back to teen village where I lived for the summer, I vividly recall my heart beating in fear of what was to come.    

Without anything but water, a sleeping bag and a flashlight, I was ready to take on the challenge. In this moment, I remember feeling nervous, awaiting the next 24 intimidating hours I would spend alone in the woods. After two hours, I arrived at my campsite and was supplied with a whistle for safety, a tarp and a bag of food for dinner.

The first task I did was set up my sleeping bag, my tarp and make my fire base. Each JIT is only provided one match, making the fire-starting process intimidating. At camp, we learned not to ‘scorch’ the Earth, meaning making a fire base in a way that we don’t burn the soil and all the life that lives in it. I had to build a proper fire base by laying down tree bark on the ground. I did not enjoy this process because it was labor intensive, time consuming and I got covered in dirt. In the end I was able to start a fire which made me feel accomplished in a time of fear.

After SOLO, I was informed that only 12 out of 83 people were able to start a fire, and I was the first one. Knowing that the flame I created would provide me light, keep the bugs away and add warmth to my campsite was reassuring and made me feel accomplished.

During my time alone, I wrote a letter home, and ate dinner. I went to bed rather early, and when I woke up in the morning, it was time to go. A counselor came to pick me up, and I was reunited with the rest of the unit on the bus. Everyone shared their SOLO stories.  On the journey back to Camp Barney Menditz, I felt so relieved that my day and night alone in the woods was over. This unforgettable experience taught me that I am capable of so much more than I ever thought. SOLO gave me time to escape from reality during a busy session at camp and reflect on my life thus far and is an experience I will never forget.

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The United States must help Puerto Rico

The island of Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States (U.S.) since 1898, after the U.S. defeated Spain in the Spanish-American War. Although the island is separate from the mainland, it is controlled by the U.S. government. Its occupants pay taxes to the U.S. federal government, possess U.S. citizenship and vote in U.S. presidential primaries. However, according to the Columbia Broadcasting System, more than half of the American population do not realize that Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory and that its residents are U.S. citizens. Puerto Ricans have been contributing significantly to the country for over 100 years, yet they are still looked upon and treated as second-class citizens.

Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Irma in September, 2017, leaving more than one million people without power. That same month, the island was hit by Hurricane Maria. Although Maria was smaller than Irma, the effects of this powerful Category 4 storm were far more detrimental: electricity was cut off the whole island, access to clean water and food became limited and floods brought on by the storm ruined streets. According to, Maria’s destruction has led to more than 94 billion dollars in damage and the economy of Puerto Rico is expected to shrink by at least eight percent this year as a result of the hurricane. With winds of 155 miles per hour, the storm was the worst to hit Puerto Rico in 80 years; over seven months later, the island is still struggling to recover and rebuild its infrastructure.

Because Puerto Rico is considered to be a part of the U.S., it would be expected that the U.S. government would assist the struggling island; however, this has not been the case. Although the U.S. has helped minimally, it has not put forth all of its effort toward ensuring the recovery of the damaged island.

Puerto Rico is entitled to the same government response as any state in the U.S. but it has yet to receive this equal treatment. According to, after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, the U.S. federal government sent 30,000 relief workers to the city within nine days; in Puerto Rico, it sent 10,000. Within that same time frame, the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved payments of 142 million dollars to victims of Harvey, but only six million to victims of Maria. The discrepancy between these government responses is undeniable and should be reevaluated.

Some may argue that the location of the island makes it difficult to provide Puerto Ricans with certain materials. While this is clearly a barrier, this cannot be used as an excuse to deprive Puerto Rico of the funds and infrastructure needed for its survival.

Congress needs to designate funds and resources to help rebuild the island as well as protect it from the potential effects of future natural disasters. It is unfathomable that people are still living without basic necessities and the U.S. has not given its all to thwart that. The U.S. has let down its Puerto Rican citizens and must find solutions in order to ease the suffering of these people as quickly as possible.

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Solution against gun violence appears counterproductive



Following the tragic events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) just a few short weeks ago, government officials are left with the task of preventing an incident like this from occurring ever again. While I believe that the most efficient solution would be stricter gun control laws, there have been other solutions proposed by concerned parents and legislators alike. Some suggest there be metal detectors placed in schools, others want more security personnel present. Although some of these solutions have controversy associated with them, none is worse than the idea of arming teachers.

This idea has been proposed before by National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre. Following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary back in 2012, LaPierre stated, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.” However, this cannot be further from the truth. According to Vox, a study, led by a Boston University School of Public Health researcher, found that, “1 percent increase in gun ownership correlated with a 0.9 percent rise in the firearm homicide rate at the state level.” This suggests that the more people that have guns, the higher the gun death rate. With this research in mind, why would anyone think that arming teachers is an intelligent strategy?

Moreover, there has already been a case where a teacher who was armed fired shots in his classroom and barricaded himself inside for about 45 minutes. This report coming from NBC News stated that the teacher was in custody, but luckily no students were harmed. If events like this can happen only weeks after a mass shooting, some students may not feel safe knowing that there is a gun inside their classroom. In addition to the possible distractions the thought may cause while a student is trying to learn, there is also the frightening possibility that a student may get their hands on it, and another tragedy can occur.

Adding on to safety issues, there is also the obstacle of obtaining proper funding. There are schools all across America that have worn out textbooks, unreliable technology and insufficient supplies for the students. The government claims they cannot afford to help these schools, and are constantly cutting the budget for education. However, I hope the people in power realize that paying for teachers to take classes on how to handle a firearm and providing a firearm for each teacher will cost a large sum of money, money that they claim “not to have”.  Instead of spending all of this money to bring more guns into schools, why not invest in modern school supplies to make life easier for both teachers and students?

Lastly, a teacher’s main job is to teach. That is what they go to college to learn how to do. That is all they should be required to do. Teachers have enough trouble meeting the standards of the school boards, dealing with troubled children and whatever they may be going through in their personal lives. They have enough stress on their plate, and adding the responsibility of knowing how to operate a firearm, and having one in class is too much to add.

There is no doubt in my mind that many teachers will do whatever it takes to protect their students. That heroism was demonstrated by the teachers and staff of Marjory Stoneman Douglas on Feb. 14. There are so many ways to train teachers to avoid these situations that do not involve more guns in the classroom. Teachers should be trained to detect characteristics of possible mental health problems with their students and know how to handle them accordingly. Although there were many factors that contributed to the shooting at MSD, the main problem was an AR-15. Clearly, putting more guns in school is not beneficial for students or teachers alike.

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Dancing at Disney renews passion


Features Photo Editor

When I was a little girl, I obsessed over anything Disney-related. I would sit in front of my television screen for hours, watching different movies of princesses, adventures and talking inanimate objects, wanting to be part of that magical world. This past December, I was finally given that opportunity through my love of dance and performing.

On Dec. 15, along with 11 other girls from my studio, Meg Segreto’s Dance Centre, I flew from Fort Lauderdale International Airport to Orlando, to perform at Disney. I didn’t know what to expect from the experience at first; I had been to dance conventions before and even performed in some, but never had it been in a place that meant so much to me.

The next day, my three roommates and I woke up at 6 a.m. We were instructed by our teachers that we needed full performance attire for our dance workshop. From past years, I knew that workshops were taught by very experienced professionals, but when I met my teacher, I was shocked beyond belief. Our instructor, who went by Claire, was not only experienced in many verses of dance, but she was a Disney dancer. Throughout our three-hour workshop, I discovered that she performed daily at Magic Kingdom in the Palace Show just in front of the castle. Beyond the fact that her career was mind-blowing to me, she was incredibly sweet and her love for all things Disney, like my own, was vivid. She taught us a typical audition piece for Disney dancers; one they must master and perform if they wish to be in certain shows. We had a mock audition piece. Of the group, I was one of the few who was asked questions, such as if I was claustrophobic or if I had ever partnered before, and received a mock call-back, being able to perform the piece again. Getting this type of attention really developed my confidence because I aspire to go into this performing field when I’m older; the fact that I was recognized and chosen out of my group fuels my belief that I can have a chance of success in this industry.

Following our audition piece, Claire sat the group down and asked us basics about performance resumes. I learned a lot from this session, like what an appropriate headshot looks like and what information to exclude from your resume, such as your age. I found this very helpful as I have had to submit artistic resumes these past few months for auditions into colleges’ arts programs.

During the last hour of the workshop, Claire taught our group a second piece, one that Disney dancers would learn and perform in the parks. When the dance was completed, Claire surprised us by informing us we would be performing both the dance we just learned with the audition piece for a small audience. Initially, I thought that was surprise enough, but when we were already in position, the house lights went dim, pink stage lights lit up, and the magical Disney voice began to speak, counting us down to begin. However, nothing compared to my shock when four seconds into our routine, Goofy popped out from a side door and began to do the dance with us. I was a backup dancer for Goofy! This was definitely the highlight of that day, topping an amazing trip to Magic Kingdom that afternoon.

The following morning, my group and I went to Disney Springs and walked around the plaza for a couple of hours before we needed to get ready to perform. I remember walking past the stage hours before the performance, and at that time it was empty; it wasn’t when we performed.

After a nice provided lunch, my friends and I went back to our bus and were taken to a behind-the-scenes dancing station just outside of Disney Springs. At the trailer location were three dancing studios and a bathroom. Here, we prepped for our performance by warming up and applying finishing touches to our look: adding firetruck red lipstick to our mouths, putting earrings the size of dimes in our ears and putting on the infamous Rockette costumes we would be performing in. For months in advance, my dance group and I had been practicing Rockette style dances and kick lines to be ready to perform for friends, family and Disney-goers who had a piqued interest in our act.

When we were brought back by bus to Disney Springs, heads were turning. Even in Disney, it’s not every day you see children waltzing around in reindeer and Rockette Santa get-ups. The instructor of the program brought us to the stage, a harem of visitors following our line, and allowed us to pass behind the curtain. At that time, they let us know we had ten minutes before show time; this was when I put on my silver-sprayed heels and set up my glittering headpieces for my quick changes.

Overall, the performance was spectacular. My knees were buckling before I had taken the stage, but once we were all in position and the music to our first of three dances began to play, all my nerves dissipated, and I put on a brave smile, allowing myself to do what I do best: dance. Every dance was executed without flaw, not one person kicking out (a term designated for the action of a dancer kicking at the wrong time in a precision piece.) Though the sunlight partially blinded me, I could see all the people’s faces alight with the joy my dancing was bringing them. Several people took their phones out and were recording the dances to be watched over and over again in the future, a memory to last a lifetime. I helped make someone’s Disney experience with my beloved talent.

Reflecting on this experience, I wouldn’t change a single thing. I had the time of my life, doing what I love most in the world, in my favorite place in the world, while providing people with the feeling that simply is Disney. This experience helped me build my confidence in multiple ways by allowing me to get out of my shell an express my utmost affections for the art I’ve come to call home. I find myself almost jealous now at the fact that I am graduating and will not be able to participate in this opportunity again with my studio; however, I say almost because I’m excited for those who are stepping up into the space I leave to have this experience.

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Excess homework prevents creative pursuits

Throughout their educational journey, most students have at least been involved in one after school activity that they’re passionate about. Whether it be sports, clubs or the performing arts, students express themselves in different ways. Unfortunately, schools often place more emphasis on core classes, and getting the best grades. Although there is a good reason for this, being that education is important, the question of whether schools are obstructing students from participating in creative activities by overwhelming them with work remains.

School is a place for learning, but also a place for students to discover what they’re passionate about, and maybe what career they want to pursue in the future. When teachers put more emphasis on getting passing grades, and assign excessive amounts of homework, they are impeding students from having any time left to explore other interests. In fact, the New York Times put out a questionnaire in 2014 asking students 13 or older to comment about the amount of homework they received. The majority of those students said that teachers do not take into consideration how much homework other teachers give as well, and thus they are stuck spending hours doing homework. If there was more communication between teachers, the amount of homework given could be reduced to a manageable size for students to have time for both education and leisure.

Moreover, schools are not just obstructing creativity through homework, it seems that they are cutting it out of the curriculum entirely. According to a TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson titled “Do Schools Kill Creativity?”, he states that students are growing out of creativity as their school years continue. According to Robinson, “During this process, students are taught that making a mistake is a sin. We have planted in our students’ minds a picture of a perfectly, carefully drawn life”. Apparently, this perfectly drawn out life has no room for creativity, as it is burdened with preparation for standardized tests, and other benchmark assessments that are not always accurate at determining a student’s true capabilities. Instead of focusing so much time on teaching students to be perfect and creating a rigid system with little to no room for variation, there should be more leeway for students to have time to discover what subject they love, and what they want to do in their lives.

However, the cutting of creativity cannot solely be blamed on teachers, they are simply following orders of the school board and of the governments, with all the ridiculous budget cuts and rules they have to follow. According to the Huffington Post, 81% of teachers say their school has been affected by budget cuts, and 35% say that the curriculum changes are a concern. School boards have placed intense pressure on teachers to meet unrealistic academic goals. These changes also affect students, since they are assigned more work, thus leaving them with little to no time to explore any extra-curricular options.

One way that this issue of schools preventing students from following their passions or being creative can be solved, is starting with implementing some creativity in the classroom. According to InformED, assigning students open ended projects, meaning that they can do the project on whatever subject interested them, was a great way to introduce creativity into the classroom. This suggestion is a compromise between teachers and students, since the teachers are meeting the requirements of the school board by having students complete projects about certain topics, and the students can research what they are passionate about, allowing them to pursue their passion, and learn at the same time.

Overall, students are still walking the journey of life and are still deciding how they can express themselves creatively, and what their true passions are. If schools have the chance to aid them in their journey towards this self-actualization, then they should take it. Instead of drowning students in work preparing for standardized tests, schools should create an intellectually stimulating environment that can benefit both students and teachers alike.

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Celebrity holiday traditions set unrealistic expectations



As the holiday season approaches, celebrities have begun to flaunt their lavish holiday decorations and celebrations. Celebrities and television stars like the Kardashians, Ellen DeGeneres and Leighton Meester, who plays Blair Waldorf in Gossip Girl, set high expectations for the holidays for ordinary people when they show off their “extra” holiday spirit.

As seen on the hit reality television program aired every Sunday on E!, “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” and on the social media pages of all the family members, the Kardashian family is known to go all out when it comes time to decorate and prepare for the holidays. The Kardashians, specifically Kourtney, Kim and Khloe, are constantly exhibiting their excessive decor on their Snapchat. As seen on their Snapchat “stories,” the Kardashians utilize the weeks prior to Christmas Day to decorate their houses and Christmas trees. One Christmas tree is not enough for the Kardashian family considering each family member has two or more trees displayed throughout their houses. In the season 14 “Holiday Special” of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” the family was shown arguing over ornaments for their many trees. Due to their reputation for having extravagant holiday celebrations, the Kardashian family takes preparing for the holidays very seriously. As seen in the “Holiday Special,” Kris Jenner and her daughter Khloe Kardashian had a “bake off” to determine who would be making the desserts for their Christmas Eve celebration. Throughout the weeks before Christmas Day, fans of the Kardashians are able to witness the family’s festivities on both their television show and all over social media. This constant showing off of this family’s extravaganza gives individuals falsified hopes for what their celebrations will look like.

On her talk show “Ellen,” Ellen DeGeneres has been giving away gifts to individuals in the audience through her “12 Days of Giveaways.” Companies like Under Armour, Scotch and Starbucks are just a few companies that sponsor DeGeneres’ giveaway program.

DeGeneres’ mission is to use her popular talk show to give back to ordinary individuals who go above and beyond and also to those who are in need of help and support. By utilizing the holiday season to help others, DeGeneres’ “12 Days of Giveaways” segment has been getting the audience excited.

Fictionally, Blair Waldorf, main character of “Gossip Girl,” has an apparent love for the holiday season throughout the television series. Waldorf’s reputation for being “rich” and “snobby” gives viewers an explanation as to why she celebrates the holidays with no limit in her mind. Whether it be her persistence to have the holidays be a perfect time of the year, her expensive Christmas list or the decor within her penthouse in New York City, Waldorf creates the ultimate Christmas experience for herself and makes viewers want to mimic her means of celebration.

Although these celebrities often use the holidays to help those in need and their communities, they also set impractical notions for how the celebrations should be. Every family has a different manner in which they celebrate the holidays. However, with celebrities like the Kardashians exhibiting exaggerated holiday spirit, many viewers are let down when their celebrations are not as festive and flamboyant as the stars that spend excessive amounts of money on decorating their houses and preparing for celebrations.

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Too much pressure placed on students to succeed



One question on one quiz for one grade in one class.  Does this one question have the power to affect the rest of their lives?

In school, many students face this one perilous question.  Students believe that getting that one question wrong could lead to an undesired grade in a class.  From there, it is a continuous cycle, a slippery slope ending with a rejection from their dream college.  These unrealistic standards and pressures cause students to suffer from severe psychological problems, such as anxiety and depression.

The New York Times recently published an article titled “Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering from Severe Anxiety?”  The article discusses the stories of several teenagers who experienced so much anxiety that they had to be sent to a treatment facility in New Hampshire, called Mountain Valley.

One of the teenagers the article focuses on is Jake, now a college freshman at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (UNC).  As a high schooler, Jake had a fear of failure and put excessive pressure on himself to get into UNC; he put so much pressure that one day he broke down and refused to go to school.  Eventually, Jake was sent to Mountain Valley.

This instance shows the detrimental effects that stress from schoolwork can have on mental health.  Although this institution sounds like an extreme step, it was necessary for the students to help reduce their stress and anxiety.  Not every student who suffers from the pressures of school needs to go to an institution like this.  However, students and schools should both work to reduce the detrimental effects of stress.

Because of school and expectations for the future, students continue to put more and more pressure on themselves to succeed.  Here at the Bay, students stack their schedules with numerous Advanced Placement (AP) and Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) classes.  Not only do they take challenging, college level courses, but they also dedicate themselves to numerous clubs and honor societies, often pursuing leadership positions.

A survey by the American Psychological Association found that 45 percent of teenagers are stressed by school pressures.  In many cases, these pressures have lead to severe psychological and health problems, ranging from fatigue and weight gain to anxiety and depression.

Along with these psychological and health problems, pressures from school have lead to an increased mortality rate among teenagers.  According to, in 2015, 18 percent of high school students reported that they had seriously thought about committing suicide.  Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teenagers ages 15-19.

Oftentimes, students find themselves locked up in their rooms after school, finishing homework and studying.  Therefore, they miss out on a valuable, stress-relieving activity: exercise.  According to the American Psychological Organization, 1 in 5 teens report exercising less than once a week or not at all.

At the Bay, students are lucky to have caring guidance counselors and clubs, such as Helping Overcome Problems Effectively (HOPE), that work to promote mental health.  However, many schools across the country lack these resources and are unable to help students suffering from psychological problems.  The Children’s Defense Fund’s 2014 State of America’s Children report cites that 45 percent of children living in poverty who needed mental health care did not receive proper treatment.

As a solution to the implications of extreme stress and pressure, schools should offer programs for suffering students.  Schools should encourage teenagers to schedule regular visits with their guidance counselor or school psychologist.  Students themselves should consider modifying their course load and making sure they have time their schedules for exercise.  Altogether, students can work on encouraging each other and helping each other succeed instead of fighting for the number one spot in their class ranking.

The one real question now is: what are schools doing to help alleviate stress and reduce pressure on students?

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Should standardized tests like the SAT and ACT be taken online?

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