Look At Her Now

Earlier today, I scrolled through my news feed as I do every now and then during moments of boredom. However, this time, the name of my old high school caught my eye. How could anybody scroll past a news article about their good old high school? I tapped it open, and found myself pretty happy, and a little touched, by the news.

The Times Online article written by Marsha Keefer (See link below) described a girl I remember seeing myself from my time in Hopewell not too long ago. Alana is an extremely sweet, bright girl that has Down syndrome. The article goes into great detail about Alana and her school life, but also displayed a strong message: everybody deserves happiness, and even the harshest of expectations can be surpassed. Unfortunately, Alana was given such an unfair expectation before she even had a chance to hear it in person.

Keefer’s interview with Alana’s mother revealed a heartbreakingly unfair prognosis: “Expect her to be limp like a rag doll and behind the eight ball”. Such an unfair assumption against someone who isn’t even born yet to defend herself. However, as the article highlights, Alana has been proving the doctor’s words wrong at every single step of the way. Alana is anything but “limp” and is certainly not “behind the eight ball”. In fact, from what I’ve seen, she is full of energy and ready to take the world by storm.

I truly wish that doctor would take a look at her now, and re-evaluate his original diagnosis. As Alana enjoys her countless friendships, volunteers at a daycare (which she loves to do), and walks down the auditorium with the few other students elected to the homecoming court, I just want to tell that doctor one simple thing: look at her now.

The article is touching, and definitely worth a read: http://www.timesonline.com/community/news/born-with-down-syndrome-hopewell-township-girl-surpasses-expectations/article_1ca95c56-8b37-11e6-b1d3-f386ec2359ed.html


– Zackary, student blogger

Study Tips

Students anywhere, whether it be high school or college, tend to become overwhelmed the week of an exam. There will be students, as I have been guilty myself, studying for hours upon hours. Once those hours are over, students will still feel anxious and unprepared for the exam. Some may become so overwhelmed, they cry, as I have been guilty of that also.

BREATHE. As I have said before in another one of my blogs, take short ten to fifteen minute breaks. Hours of studying does not do you any good, especially once your brain feels like mush for the rest of the day. Cramming all the information into your head the night before a test does not benefit you in any way, especially when you try to take an exam on two hours of sleep. Professors always stress the need to study periodically and keep up with the material because they have all most likely experienced the night-before cramming and the excessive hours of studying. Even with the frequent study sessions after class, some of us may feel the need to cram the night before because it feels like we did nothing to prepare for the test.

Meanwhile, you did the best thing for yourself and spaced out the study sessions. This is when you have to trust yourself and your knowledge, as you resist that overwhelming feeling of unpreparedness. You are prepared and you know the material, a whole lot more than you think you do. Go through the notes as a review, talk with the professor, ask any last minute questions the day before the exam, and just focus on the areas that you are still unsure on. Listen to the professors, when they say keep up with the material, it is best to keep up with the material, it helps you avoid so much stress.

Review the notes the day before the test, go through the flashcards, or just talk about it with your friends. You know the material, do not second guess yourself on the test. Believe in yourself and all the time you took to learn the material, you will do great.

-Emma, student blogger

Edifying Narrative

Education is simply defined by Mariam-Webster as “the knowledge, skill, and understanding that you get from attending a school, college, or university”. However, the very concept of education is not as simply seen or stated as it’s definition. Education is a beast, and taming it is often seen as a timely, expensive, and stressful affair. Some regard it as a key to a successful future, and some regard it as a nuisance. Unfortunately, there are many people who see it as the latter and are turned away from attaining higher knowledge, uttering the infamous “school isn’t for me”.

Now, it is true and proven that a formal education is not absolutely required to succeed in the world. In fact, many people find a successful solace in a particular skill they mold themselves, as well as various trades. Such people are among the best I have met throughout my life, and society itself would not be able to function without such roles  filled. This post is directed towards those who are seemingly lost as to what they should do next. Those who want to pursue a higher education, but are turned off by the stresses and seemingly “unnecessary” workload that are associated with such a task. These same people have the same creeping fears that everybody has as life progresses: what will I be doing, where will I be, and will I be happy. There is no doubt that many people go to school simply because they fear whatever position they will end up in had they not. How we respond to these fears is up to us, but the simple truth is that at some point we will have to face them and answer the questions ourselves. There is no doubt that education is a key to a successful future when placed in the right hands, but what if those hands don’t accept the key?

Let’s imagine that at some point in the far future, you arrive home from a late night at work. relieved to be able to relax after a long day of hard work, the seventeenth straight. The car door creaks as you open it, before pulling yourself out and thudding it shut. Your body aches as you make your way to the front door, shielding your eyes from the downpour which hasn’t stopped since this morning. The ice-cold rain feels piercing, and you wish you would have brought your umbrella, but it slipped your mind as you shambled out of the house to your first job of the day after a mere four hours of sleep. You approach the door, and reach into the tattered box on the wall beside it, carrying the damp envelopes inside with you. You breach a  wall of coldness that always greets you when you return home at this time of the year, and hazily make your way through the darkness. Your jacket is discarded on the table before you kick off your boots and slump back onto the couch, ignoring the distant, gnarled hunger you always seem to feel. You know you should eat, but you just can’t pull the energy to get back up. There probably isn’t food in the kitchen anyways, as you can’t recall whether or not you actually made it to a grocery store this week. However, the hunger can’t remotely overcome the sensation of laying back. The relief of just simply being able to enjoy a moment to yourself is overcoming. You begin to clear your head of the day’s stress, letting go of the disgruntled thoughts that you just may not have been compensated fairly for the time you are losing. You exhale as the ache from moving begins to fade away. You realize you are still clutching the handful of envelopes, and toss them to the small table beside you, already littered with similar letters.

“The remote is around here somewhere”, you think as you feel around the couch. You haven’t bothered to turn on any of the lights. The television flicks on as you look forward to unwinding, to forget the day and not think about tomorrow. The screen is blank, however, but you don’t seem to notice. Your eyes are fixated on the dim outline of the envelopes resting on the table. The relaxing haze that once fell over you is slowly replaced by a dull anxiety you often feel. An anxiety that convinces you that you are lost, and a realization that life may have just moved on at a pace faster than you’ve kept up with. You feel confused and lost in your goals, and ultimately, you do not feel happy. No time was spent relaxing that night, and yet, you still only managed a few meager hours of sleep.

Now I ask you, when compared to all alternatives, is education really that stressful?

-Zackary, student blogger

Taking a Break

Everyone has gotten overwhelmed by something in life, whether it be children, work, school, the future, the past, or even if it was just overthinking things before falling asleep. College students especially tend to be overwhelmed with the workload, studying, and the dreaded test days. On top of school work, some people have a family to take care of, a full-time or part-time job that starts before or after class, and daily struggles that no one may ever know about. Sometimes it may feel impossible to ever accomplish that goal of graduating, or even making it through the day. It may seem like you don’t even have time to eat or take care of yourself.

STOP. Stop thinking that way. The best thing you can do for yourself is to take care of yourself and to allow yourself to take a break. Yes, there may be that big exam tomorrow and you may have three more chapters to study, along with laundry, work, and picking up the kids from school. However, what good is it going to do to sit there for ten minutes just rambling off the things you need to get done and how impossible it is? Instead, put down the book, the phone or shut off the television. Get out of the chair and move around, go outside for those 10 minutes, listen to music for a few minutes, and just let yourself calm down.  Your brain can only take so much at once, it is best to give yourself frequent little breaks, like five to ten minutes long. You are capable of completing that assignment, but you have to allow yourself to take a break.

It may seem like the last thing you want to hear or even do, but take a break and let yourself relax. You got so much more done that what you think you do. You know more than you think, just trust yourself. Take those little breaks every now and then, and maybe everything won’t seem so impossible.

-Emma, student blogger

Transitioning to College

Some students have started college directly after high school, or others took some time off for personal reasons and have now decided to expand their education further.  In either case, everyone experiences a transition because of the new role as a student.

Students straight out of high school, with consecutive years of the same school routine, now take on a new curriculum system every semester, depending on the professor.  High school teachers would remind those who were absent of their work, now it is the student’s responsibility to get the information from the professor and stay on track with the class.  Students may struggle with a concept, and before the teacher would come up to the student in school and ask if extra help is needed.  Now, college professors are always more than happy to help, but it is the student’s responsibility to start that process to obtain help.

Remember when classes would be forty-five minutes long and students always dreaded those double periods in class?  Well, college classes now normally last as long as those double periods in high school. However, some, depending on your major, may last much longer.  It takes some time to transition to this change, but professors are very understanding and give five minute breaks to help ease that new time frame into routine.

People deciding to go back to school after some time off also experience the transition, including time management and the flashbacks to homework assignments.  Between the time in class and the time studying, a whole new routine is established in a household, that may take some time to critique, but don’t give up.  It may seem nearly impossible, but yourself and your family will benefit from your decision to keep going in so many unbelievable ways.  Now, with time management, includes the time to do homework assignments.  Transitioning to the college mind set may take some time, but it will be worth it to follow through with your goal.

-Emma, student blogger