Panther Press

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Leditor: Why Are Health and Success Pitted Against Each Other?

Maddie Marks, '19, co-Editor-in-Chief

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Dear Readers,

Every year, as summer fades into autumn and autumn transitions into winter, I find that myself as well as my fellow students at Strath Haven seem to be missing something about us that is so prevalent and defining for us in the beginning and end of the school year. We’re missing our spirit,
our color. Strath Haven works so hard to create a welcoming and friendly environment for all students, and they do a good job achieving this. However, our loss of spirit and color, a visualization of the prevalence of mental illness in teenagers, especially as we get into the crux of the school year, may transcend the community of Strath Haven. It stems from the structure of the school system and is perpetuated by the word “success” as it is commonly defined.

There is no perfectly correct way to structure our system of education, I admit that. However, I do believe that there is a problem worth investigating further with the setup that is in place now.  According to an article from NPR published in 2016, one in every five kids living in the United States “show signs or symptoms of a mental health disorder in a given year,” but eighty percent do not receive the treatment or services they need. These, to me, are incredibly shocking numbers, and ones that warrant attention. The school system, especially that of Strath Haven, is rigorous and sometimes very unforgiving. The course of action is to get in, get done, get out, and move forward.
We’re being educated to finish and not to learn. This first qualifies the purpose of schooling as reaching an end. I personally find this idea extremely stressful and overwhelming. It almost seems like we are biding our time, waiting to reach a predestined goal while wasting away our adolescent years, which are pivotal in developing our sense of self and identity. If college is our predestined goal, and good test scores means good colleges, then all of our time should be spent on getting good test scores to reach our predestined goal, right? Now, of course there are flaws to this criticism. Standardized tests are extremely efficient methods of comparison for students across
the country. However, the stress and anxiety caused by the weight placed on high standardized
test scores almost makes the tests seem not worth it.

Of course, that depends on how we define success. Our society currently defines success as getting good test scores, getting into a good college, getting a good job, making a lot of money, and then retiring. And if we measure the worthiness of standardized tests according to that criteria, they are definitely worth it. But can’t success be defined as happiness? What’s the point of reaching the aforementioned landmarks if we aren’t happy while doing it? That’s where a shift is needed in our thinking. Depression and anxiety often arise from the pressure put on students by the success culture that is promoted by the school system. And once we begin to reach the point of no return in the school year, students are swallowed up by it. This is where I call on you, Haven students. Don’t get ensnared by the culture of this supposed success. The most valuable lesson I’ve learned over the past few years is that success is not the same for everyone. And most importantly, your success  should be making you happy.


Maddie Marks


The student newspaper of Strath Haven High School. The Panther Press is first and foremost a reflection of the opinions and interests of the student body. For this reason, we do not publish any anonymous or teacher-written submissions, and we do not discriminate against any ideology or political opinion. While we are bound by school policy (and funding), we will not render any article neutral, although individual points may be edited for obscene or inflammatory content. Finally, the articles published in the Panther Press do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or advisors.
Leditor: Why Are Health and Success Pitted Against Each Other?