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What Does Mom Think? | Emily Gao

What Does Mom Think?

by: Emily Gao

Canyon Crest Academy. One of the top schools in the nation. A reputation for amazing academics, art programs, and sports. Students here are studious and hardworking. And some are stressed out 24/7. Crying about receiving a B in a class isn’t uncommon. Mental breakdowns about AP tests are slowly becoming normal. The parents of CCA students have to bear witness to this insane CCA culture. A parent of a CCA student has to see their children constantly comparing themselves to the next best person. A parent of a CCA student has to see their children getting less than six hours of sleep daily and their health deteriorating because of schoolwork and stress.  A parent of a CCA student has to see their children doubt their self-worth just because of a bad grade in a class.

“I don’t understand why.” says Jackie Bolaris, a mother of two students at CCA. She goes on to describe her high school experience, “It was stressful at times, yes, but I don’t remember ever being so obsessed with my grades. It’s saddening to see my kids stress out and worry so much about school. This is supposed to be the best time of their lives, not the worst.” She shakes her head. Her daughter, Amelia, just started high school less than a month ago. “I remember the first things that she said to me after her first day of school – I hate high school”. She goes on to talk about her son, Jon, a current junior at CCA. She describes how he pulls all-nighters at least once a week and usually gets only about five hours of sleep a night. “He’s a growing boy, he needs more rest than that”. She doesn’t understand why her son insists on taking 4 AP classes. She doesn’t think it’s worth it, but can not convince her children to think the same. “AP classes are not supposed to be for every student. When did AP classes become the ‘average’ or ‘normal’ thing to do instead of the ‘above average’? AP classes have become a thing that students are ‘supposed’ to take, and that’s not healthy.” she states with frustration in her voice. It’s the culture at CCA that causes the students to sign up for so many rigorous and hard classes. Students see others taking AP courses and doing numerous extracurriculars and feel obligated that they should do the same. They think that if they don’t have a GPA of over a 4.0 or don’t have a five page long resumé of extracurriculars, they are somehow ‘less’ than the people that do. In the end, Jackie Bolaris thinks that AP classes are a good opportunity for students who are passionate about a certain subject and want to challenge themselves. But she feels that students at CCA just take AP classes for the GPA boost, not because they are passionate about the learning.

Shari Capozzi, a parent of a sophomore at CCA who is more of an ‘average’ student expresses how her daughter, Lexzi, is loving her high school experience. “I am glad that Lexzi isn’t consumed by her schoolwork. She is living out her teenage years to the best of her abilities”. She explains how it saddens her when she sees her daughter is comparing herself to other students. Shari knows her daughter works hard in school. She knows she is a good kid. She knows that she will do great things in life. It’s heartbreaking to her to see her daughter question this just because someone else is ‘better’ than her.  Shari expresses how even though she is proud of her daughter and all that she has accomplished so far, she wants her daughter to challenge herself more this year. She wants her kid to sign up for a couple clubs, do some community service, take a few AP classes in subjects she is interested in. She wants her kid to enjoy school more than anything though. “Once I allow Lexzi’s life to be revolved around her grades, she’ll be unhappy. I want her to have a good high-school experience, not a stressful one.” Shari feels that her daughter doesn’t need to take every AP class that exists, have a 4.0 GPA, and do a million extracurriculars to succeed in life. Shari’s primary goal is for her daughter to be happy. “I feel like too many CCA parents push their kids beyond their breaking point when it comes to school. School should be about learning, not about boosting your resume,” she explains to me, “students should decide what they can and cannot handle.” Her daughter has decided that she can not handle taking extremely rigorous classes and Shari is perfectly fine with it.

Bing Kuang, father of a sophomore student Alicia Kuang has differing opinions about the rigorous and competitive culture at CCA. “I think it is good for the students. It’ll prepare them for the real world.” He describes Alicia, who is currently taking three AP’s: “She is stressed out at times, but I know she can handle it. It’s a highly competitive world, and it is only going to get more competitive.” A healthy amount of competition in high school is a good thing in Bing’s eyes. This way, it will ensure his daughter will be successful and prepared once she gets out of school. “Honestly though, I feel like most of the pressure Alicia gets from school is pressure she puts on herself” he explains. He feels that his daughter is too focused on her grades, rather than being focused on what she is learning: “That rainbow Aeries app is the most used app on her phone.” he tells me. “I want her to be passionate about what she is learning, not passionate about getting good grades. It’s the people that are passionate about learning are the ones that are the most successful.”

        CCA is an extremely demanding school with students that put an extreme amount of pressure on themselves to do well. It pains some parents to watch their kids stress themselves out. Other parents see the competitive nature of CCA as a positive thing. However, a general consensus can be drawn by most parents: us students at CCA need to stop worrying about our grades so much. Something that is easier said than done. Something that I, being a student at CCA, still need to work on.

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