BY Callia Peterson, ’22.

Scrambling to find my calculator in the depths of my backpack for math class, I looked over at my friend Kyle who asked calmly, “How are you today?”

“Frazzled!” I responded, plopping myself into my chair. She laughed. 

Midterms are days away, and the high school is buzzing. The LC is packed with students poring over review material; students are spending their lunch periods completing missing assignments, and the athletic wing is crowded with wrestlers and basketball players wrapping up their final practices before winter break. Busy, stressed, anxious, excited, and yes, frazzled—you name it, I see it in myself, my peers and the teachers and administrators that surround me. 

As my walk into the high school gets chillier and I feel compelled to blare Christmas music in my car, I see family time and hot cocoa on the horizon, but there is one thing in the forefront of my mind: midterms. 

If you’re like me, you’ve probably checked PowerSchool more times than you would care to admit, and you’ve calculated the percentages you need to maintain or improve your grades in every class. But this year, I’m forcing myself to pause before tapping on the alluring P representing the PowerSchool app, and instead asking myself why I’m at school in the first place. Is it to rack up points? Is it to keep my GPA above a certain number? No. It’s to learn about history and society, how to wield mathematical figures and the science that explains everything that surrounds us. It’s to build leadership, design thinking and interpersonal skills for current and future passion projects. It’s to teach and inspire a newsroom and a Student Innovation Team committee. It’s to make meaningful connections with my peers and experience the exuberance of adolescence. It’s to become an informed citizen of the world.

So if you’re a student, I implore you to take a step back next time you check your grades and to ask yourself what you want to get out of school every day. If you’re a teacher, I hope you pause to ask yourself why you love teaching next time you type in a test score. If you’re an administrator, I ask that you think of ways we can move closer to a system that values learning over performance, and students over numbers. Read more about academic culture at UAHS on page 14.