The Student News Site of Manheim Township High School

The Township Times

The Student News Site of Manheim Township High School

The Township Times

The Township Times

The Student News Site of Manheim Township High School

The Township Times

MTFH Seniors
Top row (left to right): Gabrielle Romano, Aubrey Barotti, Keira Robinson,  Calli Campagna, Nia Mountis, Brenna Campagna, Abby Labezius
Bottom row (left to right): Kristen Nam, Zoe Caloviras, Summer Strauss
A Record Season for MTFH
December 3, 2023

Opinion: Students are More Than a Grade


Students have a lot going on. Whether it’s sports, theater, or music, many students at Township are involved in extracurriculars and find themselves busy until the end of their day, sparingly finding a moment to pause. And when they finally get home, up to three hours of homework are waiting for them.

Expending all their mental energy until the early hours of morning, they now have to repeat this cycle day after day, somehow performing just as well as the day before. It’s bound to get tiring after a while, with the reputation of the school praising academic excellence and excellence only. Is the pressure too much, or is this how school is intended to be? 

I’ve considered these questions extensively over the past year, as I have experienced academic pressure myself and pondered its normalcy. Through the lens of multiple perspectives, I am now examining whether or not Township students are, in fact, experiencing academic pressure. 

After interviewing students and teachers, I received an overwhelmingly common response: Yes, students have too much pressure put on them. According to junior Penelope Meservey, an IB student at MT, she “understands the competitive nature of college and the world beyond [high school] education.” However, she believes that the “…amount of time expected to put in after school hours is ridiculous.” There is a certain benefit to always being motivated to do well in a competitive environment. However, the time commitments and the overall expectations put in place to excel are near impossible for a high-school student who participates in extracurricular activities, and is not just attending school then going home.

Township Times writer Zoe Baker Herron wrote a fantastic article detailing the burnout that can occur as a result of unrealistic goals regarding school, and its effects on mental health. One of the many ways that academic pressure can be detrimental to mental health is when students believe their grades are a sense of self worth. Sophomore Wyatte Lyons commented on how the pressure makes her feel “[as] If I don’t get a good grade, I’m not going to succeed in my life.”

Additionally, Mrs. Hoover, a science teacher and leader of the Morgan’s Message Club, said that when she was in high school, she “felt like [her] grades defined who [she] was as a person.” For her, stepping out of that mindset has been helpful. The ability to recognize that grades truly are a letter and not a reflection of your intelligence is a difficult task, but extremely important for one’s mental health. 

Next, I examined what some of the ways students experience pressure were. Overall, I gathered that the common denominators regarding pressure include exacerbated stress and anxiety. Having so many assignments and tests to study for will inevitably result in feelings of stress, especially when extracurricular activities come into play. While learning how to manage stress through time management can be considered crucial to academic success, it should not be a student’s responsibility to learn how to manage their anxiety regarding self-worth. A letter on paper should not be the prime marker of a student’s intelligence. 

So, the question becomes, what purpose does this pressure serve? Partially, it is meant to motivate students to continuously better themselves. However, I believe that there is a deeper meaning to all of this. A simple fact of the culture at Manheim Township is that our school values excellence, which has always been a part of the reputation. If the scores are lowered on major tests, that will cause the school’s reputation to sink further into being a school in which academic excellence is not prioritized. Logically speaking, if our school keeps the standards and pressure high enough, then test scores will never drop, keeping the reputation of excellence stable. 

Using this logic, both sides of the argument can be examined. William Lee, a sophomore at MT, believes academic pressure is non-existent, and finds that it is a healthy way to motivate students to perform well. While it is understandable to believe that academic pressure is non-existent, consider the Student of the Month award, which praises only the best students, and never those who are “below-average,” or even simply “average.” This award simply reinforces the culture of academic excellence, and puts pressure on students to be incredible in all areas. What if the award wasn’t based on academic merits, but rather on moral merits, such as being a kind person, or simply putting forth commendable effort? Say this award was voted on firstly by teachers, and then by the student body, providing everybody with an equal amount of say in the matter. While the Student Recognition Award does a good job at this, the culture of our school could be drastically different if we focused on how people treated each other rather than on what grade we got on our last test. 

Overall, it is important to acknowledge that these pressures exist in order to create a healthier environment for everyone at Township. If there was less pressure being placed on students to consistently perform, causing unrealistic expectations and stress on the students, the culture of the student body would drastically change. By placing more emphasis on students’ qualities rather than their academics, students will finally be able to realize that they are more than simply a grade.

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About the Contributor
Anna Gail Mattson, Staff writer
Anna Gail is a staff writer for The Township Times and is a sophomore at MT.

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