The Tate of the Union: A reflection on my time at East

As my time at East winds down, I have found myself reflecting on my four years in high school. For my last Tate of the Union, I wanted to take the time to discuss my academic experience at East, how this experience differs from many of my peers, and how our school’s administration can improve this experience for future students.

Throughout my high school career, I thrived under the intense academic pressure. Personally, I am thankful for the heavy workload that I was encouraged to create for myself during my time at East. I feel prepared to attend UNC-Chapel Hill next year thanks to the development of the diligence, motivation, and academic mindset that being a student at East demands. For some, East is a great place to develop the skills mandated by higher education.

For many others however, this academic environment is suffocating and unnecessary. The fact of the matter is that many students will not attend a four year institution following their time at East, so why should our scholastic environment encourage every student to aspire to this goal? I know that the academic skills I have acquired throughout my four years at East will prove to be invaluable during my time at Carolina, but our school must accommodate those not attending a four year university. The negative impacts of the administration’s ceaseless emphasis on academics have been well documented, yet many students are still needlessly pummeled by relentless waves of academic pressure.

Last Friday, Ms. Tully stayed on the intercom after the standard morning announcements to proudly inform the student body of the numerous accolades that East received this year. For the 2016-2017 school year, East rose to 144th in national high school rankings and 6th overall in the state of North Carolina. While I believe that our academic rankings can reveal our school’s academic excellence, I don’t believe that these numbers can accurately portray the full picture of life here at East.

Since August of my freshman year, it has been clear to me that many students at East are simply unhappy. Alongside other factors, I believe that this pessimistic attitude has contributed to our school’s notorious lack of school spirit. As I watched the Snapchat Stories of Carrboro High School students who attended the school’s annual “Burro Blowout,” (Carrboro’s version of SpringFest) the genuine pride that the Jaguars have for their school was palpable. At East, much of the student body uses our annual spring festival as an excuse to skip school, and the idea of actually attending a pep rally is laughable for most of the senior class.

Another unfortunate result of our administration’s emphasis on academics is the rampant instances of cheating that occur everyday. With the ridiculous amount of busy work and the intense workload that students place on themselves with honors and AP classes, no one is immune to cheating. Complete academic integrity is maintained by a select few for the duration of the year, but can we truly blame the rest of the student body for their tendencies? For some, this unmanageable workload generates an excessively stressful environment, precipitating many students’ loss of academic integrity.

To combat the student body’s cheerless sentiments, the administration must abandon its incessant numerical tunnel vision. By reducing our school’s emphasis on rankings, GPAs, and test scores, East students will become happier, more honest, and more passionate members of a collective student body.  

Yes, I concede that this idea has been expressed countless times by the ECHO, but I must reaffirm these assertions. While I enjoyed my time at East overall, I know that many of the students who will walk across the Dean Dome stage alongside me sporting black gowns and silver ribbons did not. I hope that future generations of East students can continue to enjoy our school’s history of academic achievement, while still cherishing these four formative years of their lives at East Chapel Hill High.


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