“My cousin goes to Portage Northern! He’ll think I’m famous!” “I have hot dogs in my backpack because I love hot dogs.” “People think this is creepy.” These are just a few of the remarks Bayley Neal and I heard at Haverhill Elementary, when second grade teacher, Mrs. Carson, cheerfully allowed us into her class to record how elementary school is different from high school. The results were conclusive: elementary school is fun, colorful, and full of creativity, whereas, high school is a pit of sadness and exhaustion.
The energy of Carson’s class was like a wall of happy shouts and sticky fingers that hit as we walked through her door. Carson began the class by introducing the us and what we would be doing. You know, just lurking around and recording every move the kids made. Carson proceeded to hand out our simple survey for the students to fill out. Several highlights from said surveys are as follows:
“What is your favorite thing to do at school?”
“Play at resesy.”
“Are you looking forward to going to high school someday?”
“What do you think high school will be like?”
“Terrifying,” “Math and learn,” and “I think it will be fun, becus they do hard math.”
These “Little Einsteins,” provided some fascinating data. The morning waddled along to a lesson on penguins: information on how the male penguin keeps the baby egg warm with its stomach, the white “milk” that forms in the male’s throat for a disgusting two weeks to feed the baby, and most importantly, a lesson in walking with an egg (stress ball) on one’s foot. But clearly these facts are not as gratifying as writing a 13 page senior paper on the fact that, despite apparent popular belief, modern slavery does exist, or giving a ten minute IB Oral on a poem no one has ever heard (except for some very special English teachers, whom we love very much).
The rest of the afternoon brought dancing (which obviously could not compare to Mr. Neal’s legendary “Funky Fridays”), coloring, making only the sickest of masks in the art room, and finally coming back to Carson’s room for snack time. However, to be fair, PN’s students do get a snack time… oh wait, some may call that smuggling food into class, like contraband.
After snack time, the second grade home dawgs went to “Hive Time” in the library (still do not know what that was about). Once surviving the barrage of colored pictures from the little mouth breathers and “where are you going,” “will you be back,” and “send us a paper,” a parking lot full of students driving like visually impaired deer (shout out to you especially, first lunch), the chaos that is the lunch room, cold gray hallways filled with awkward stares from passing classmates, and a water bottle refilled with off-white “water” from a drinking fountain welcomed us back.
But yeah, high school is great, am I right? How about those the brazen teachers who take their own stress out on students, without proceeding on with an apology? Students thrive in character and study habits under those educators.
We high schoolers also appreciate how smoothly the “earn back time” system is flowing. It is simply unacceptable to completely pardon a student from school just because they allegedly “could not get out of bed without vomiting.” Besides, these hooky-playing-hoodlums were probably just watching R-rated movies or riding skateboards. (In all seriousness, it is almost impossible to get upset about these “detentions” when they are delivered by the “Jesus-like” hall monitor. He is a cool dude.)
Keeping on the high school struggle bus, every Wednesday students pay for halfway-filled bags of flavorless popcorn for the same price as the full bags sold in recent years. Genius! Those professionals in the big office chairs (or was this our girl Michelle Obama) know what they are doing to rake in the funds from financially struggling high school students.
However, perhaps the most blatantly heinous factor is 7:35 start time. This showed complete disregard for studies, including those by renown pediatrician, Dr. Cora Breuner, which so explicitly state students should not begin school before 8:30 a.m.. The elementary students start school at 8:25, but we are too old for that? Lawmakers need to contemplate what is best for their mentally, physically, emotionally drained high school students.
Let us now give a metaphorically thunderous round of applause for the public educational system of our great state of Michigan, after all, they are scraping away our childhoods to prepare us for the world ahead, which is apparently exhausting, lacking in the arts, and smells like armpit. But is growing into young adults grounds to destroy the innocent excitement of children? Recall the last answer in the above survey, think about that pure happiness and anticipation, and then never forget how quickly those precious feelings will be stolen away.
The question remains: what are we, as free citizens with powerful voices, doing to remind lawmakers of the harsh environment higher education has become? Speak up for your frustrated 14 year old sister who frequently stays up until the wee hours of the morning just to get a passing grade on a project, or your young neighbor boy seeking professional help for the amount of pressure put on him to maintain a 4.0 grade average. Speak up for the hurting, stressed, physically and mentally fatigued students walking through beautiful glass doors of misery into your local high school every day. We must work to maintain the spirit and environment found in classrooms like Mrs. Carson’s.
If you could tell Portage Northern one thing, what would it be?
Jordan Bremme (2)- “[Read] Junie B. Jones.”
Morgan Heyn (2)- “Why did the chicken cross the road? ‘Cause he wanted to see a car and the car ran him over.”
Violet Holmes (2)- “Dolphins are awesome.”
Naomi Monroe (2)- “I’m the only one with a clear bag.”