The band aid solution

MVHS administration, staff, students and parents should change ineffective procedures that attempt to assist with academic and emotional well-being

Sreya Kumar and Shuvi Jha

The average MVHS student takes 5 to 6 AP classes, spends hours doing homework and takes part in several extracurriculars. To the outsider, this might seem overwhelming, but for many MVHS students, this is their day-to-day reality. With so many commitments to handle along with balancing spending time with family and friends, many students have little time in their schedules to pursue leisure activities. 

Comparing this to the typical American high school experience, characterized by a balance of academic and social experiences, the difference in workload is even more evident. However, this gap, brought upon by a variety of different factors, is not necessarily a bad thing. 

First and foremost, it is important to note that MVHS is located in the Bay Area, at the epicenter of the highly affluent, technology-based, resourceful Silicon Valley where hard work is rewarded and the population consists of many immigrant families. At MVHS alone, ____ percent of students come from an immigrant background. Many have parents who took a chance in coming to the United States and worked from the bottom up to ensure that their children and future generations thrived. 

To honor their parents as well as previous generations of Indian, Chinese, Korean and Mexican immigrants, MVHS students often take it upon themselves to enroll in several AP and honor courses and also participate in a plethora of demanding extracurriculars. For many of them, the stress that they endure is a small token they pay in exchange for the sacrifices their forefathers made. 

The large immigrant population at MVHS creates a melting pot of cultures and experiences. Parents have worked day after day, adjusting to cultural gaps and assimilating to American society, in hopes to raise successful children. Much of the students’ work ethic mirrors their parents — to strive for the best. And in the eyes of parents, success means having good grades, attending a prestigious college and ultimately, landing a well paying job. This results in a rigorous course load, demanding schedule and often concern on the part of  school staff and administrators.

While some students excel and find success, others fall victim to MVHS’ notorious culture while trying to keep up with the Joneses. Year after year, students take increasingly harder courses, and while many may thrive under stress and competition, others start to fall behind. Taking a Math Analysis course, compared to its honors counterpart, is seen as weak. A 1520 SAT score is not good enough and results in retaking the exam. Bs freshman year translate to rejections from colleges – at least in our minds. The academic culture at MVHS is tainted with shame and fear, as a lighter workload is frowned upon by peers and parents. Students who struggle and thrive undergo immense pressure and stress, and the MVHS community has attempted to implement strategies to address this issue.

Though well-intentioned, band aid solutions that address the student body’s well-being and mental health, like the time management worksheet (provided to the students every year), could be improved upon. Many solutions seem to focus on decreasing academic rigor and erasing the stigma that surrounds failure at school, and chooses to ignore, in a way, the cultural pressure many students put themselves through. 

Implemented procedures for the well being of students should help students manage themselves better without disregarding personal beliefs that stem from immigration experience and family background. On the other hand, students who struggle should have easy access to solutions that will benefit them, like being more lenient with course change requests. As students, we should also understand our place in perpetuating this cycle of unhealthy stress and recognize that while it is important to push ourselves to do better, our mental health comes first, always.

It’s time we rip off the band aid.