How does the MHS experience measure up?

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Jaeger Lajewski

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MHS seniors show their spirit at the Fall Pep Rally

MHS seniors show their spirit at the Fall Pep Rally

Kyra Makowsky

Kyra Makowsky

MHS seniors show their spirit at the Fall Pep Rally

Madison High School lacks the so called traditional high school experience due to the lack of a commanding presence of cheerleaders, school spirit, and unity. Recently, the cheer program was brought back, and student council made an effort to increase motivation among students, but the sentiment of traditional school spirit is still not 100% present.

The dream high school experience, at least in the Hollywood version, is portrayed as the place to find a first love, have distinct and loyal friends, prepare for an Ivy League college, and to have the perfect prom.  Movie teenagers seem to lead lives full of the utmost bliss, and therefore movies set up unrealistic expectation for high school to be perfection. With the juxtaposition of what is portrayed through media as opposed to what the individual at Madison High School actual experiences, students might feel confused of dissatisfied with their reality.

 

School Spirit:

While the student council has made serious efforts to increase school spirit, student response has been disappointing.  Katerina Rettino, a sophomore, says “ I don’t like how little school spirit there is at pep rallies and spirit days and stuff, like people either don’t participate or they do the bare minimum and it’s really annoying because the only way for it to be fun is if people get really crazy and go all out.”  Creating school spirit is difficult and cannot happen in a short amount of time, but Katerina says, “ I know they kinda decorate for the spirit week but I really wish we went all out like balloons and streamers. In movies you always see really well decorated hallways and everyone goes all out for everything and I wished we had that.” If the Student Council granted wishes like this one, would that inspire a stronger sense of unity and spirit?

Other students see MHS spirit differently.  Hope Pratt, another sophomore, says “ I like the Madison High School atmosphere. There’s a lot of school spirit and a strong sense of community. Everyone wants to get involved in spirit days. Also, there is a relatively high school attendance at football games… people are generally proud to be Dodgers and though it may not be shown, everyone is always rooting for our school and our teams to win.”

Sydney Shreck, a junior, has an opinion that takes yet another view. She explains, “ Our school is only good when we do well in sports. Like this year it was bad because our football team didn’t win as much. Also, I feel like even when we do well only half of the school cares and participates in the spirit days.”

With two polar opposite responses and one in between, it is hard to come to a definite conclusion as to what the general student body thinks. One thing is clear, though.  Improving school spirit can’t hurt.  

 

Academics:

With Madison High School considered a top public school in the state, academic life for students is naturally stressful and busy.

Asked about academics, Hope Pratt says, “ I also like that most teachers want you to succeed and are there if you need extra help. However, I wish that there was less stress and work. In many movies and tv shows high school seems like a breeze where there is barely work… In Chatham and other school districts have quarterly exams, instead of finals, which I think is a very good policy. Also in some of these other districts there is no (or very little) summer homework. I think this is another good policy because without the worry of summer homework, students can take more advantage of the break.”

Continuing with the topic of work distribution, Sydney Schreck mentions, “ I feel like some enriched classes are treated like honors and that’s not fair to the students. Also not every teacher teaches. Like some just give you worksheets and expect you to learn it on your own. While others give way too many lectures and not enough hands on work.”

Would eliminating summer work and adding quarterly exams enrich the high school experience?  Does a consistent teaching style among faculty increase student achievement?

As mentioned, student life is hectic, with regular classes on top of extracurriculars, there are certain details that students seem to value as a result. Presented by Madison High School students are ideas for the school that is believed to better their experience.

Jamie Habib, a freshman girl, says, “ I wish we had PE exemptions. Most schools have them for anyone who plays a sport and I think it would be very beneficial. If not exemptions, I wish you could at least take PE pass fail. I also would have enjoyed having Honors Italian 3. Right now Italian 3 and languages that are level 3 are not considered an honors class when many schools have them as an honors class”.

Another class restriction wanted to be changed is mentioned by Kristin McManus, a senior, who says, “ I think that it would be helpful to have longer lunch periods because it is a time to relax and take time to yourself. When people are rushed for eating, it can be stressful. Also students have quizzes or work that they can catch up on, not giving them enough time to eat after”

Katerina Rettino, contributed to a thought past basic academics and said, “ The great people are the creative and original ones, yet school is trying to make us uniform and stay inside the box. Also, there is homework every day from every teacher so when are we going to find time to work on things that we enjoy working on?… I just think students should be asked for their opinions on the school’s policies”.

On a positive note, Luke Bias, a sophomore boy says, “ One thing I like about the high school is how it is very independent and allows students to join clubs …” but then continues and mentions, “ There are some classes I do not find necessary for the school… but there should definitely be included an AP process just like history which is for junior year, an AP pre-calculus course for junior year or for senior year that is required… which would have people get college credits”.

From each interviewee, significant points were made which could seriously alter a student’s high school career. For colleges and for a healthy balance in life, these suggestions have the possibility of creating positive impacts and further enhance the success of the school. All points also appear to be realistic requests and as Katerina mentioned, a student input on school policies and decisions may be a large benefit for the school and these desires can be possibly implemented after discussion.

Based off of the results, the Madison High School experience is clearly not perfect and nor is it expected to be. After the harsh reality of realizing that high school is simply not the dream life as presented in movies, academic life did seem to be somewhat of a let down, but the issues mentioned can have a solution to hopefully make high school as pleasurable as possible.

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