By Tori Custer
Every school years brings about more challenges and fresh worries. Whether it’s maintaining the ideal grades or making a sports team, every student realizes that another school year means facing the stress of learning new material and keeping up with deadlines. For many, the main worry is just fitting in and feeling comfortable with the opinions of their peers. Homecoming is one of the biggest social events of the school year, and students of all grades and ages attend.
If the pressure of school by itself wasn’t enough, the added pressure of planning for what some students consider the “biggest night of their life” sometimes causes breakdowns and hourly visits to the guidance counselor. While for most it isn’t quite that dramatic, many students can relate to the feeling. Girls are spending their nights searching for the perfect dress, and boys are designing the perfect sign to ask that special girl. Homecoming marks a time of shifting priorities, where fitting in becomes more important than grades and homework. “The most stressful part is planning, and every aspect of it! From what to wear to who to go with and how we’re getting from place to place,” said Tuscarora High School sophomore Sarah Linhart. Tuscarora junior Kelley Hernandez agrees that most of the stress comes from before the actual dance. “Getting ready cause it takes a really long time,” said Hernandez.
The Wall Street Journal conducted a study with over 10,000 students in 2011 on the effect of stress on a student’s learning. The study revealed that most students have a stress level that is the equivalent of a working adult. The learning environment was found to have a huge effect on the amount of stress students have. During Homecoming week the school is full of students talking about their hopes and their ideal night, and the buzz and plans of others can cause competition between those attending to have the best group, party, or dress. High school students tend to care about what others think, and many worry about not living up the expectations of their peers. If you add that stress to the homework and tests students are already facing, school can become a very stressful environment.
The study completed by Wall Street Journal also found how stress affected students in school. Stress increases the chance teenagers will have trouble paying attention in class or on an assignment, will be more likely to argue and disrupt activities, and will have communicating and cooperating with their fellow students. It also revealed it could cause someone to feel depressed, lonely, and anxious.
Procrastinating getting ready for Homecoming can also make it more stressful. If you have a plan and everything you need in front of you, it makes balancing your social life and school ten times easier.
“It wasn’t very stressful because I started planning early and I got everything I needed, but if I had to pick, it would be deciding what to do with my hair,” said freshman Mckenna Traupe.
Even without the social events and dances such as Homecoming, stress is unavoidable in high school. There is always an approaching test or deadline, and for upperclassmen there are college applications and SATs to worry about. So how do you avoid something as detrimental as stress? While it’s impossible to completely eradicate it, there are ways to reduce it.
“Hold a dog. Or if you can’t, look at pictures and videos of dogs.Whenever I hold or look at a dog I instantly feel better. It releases endorphins,” said Tuscarora High School counseling secretary Mrs. Amado. “Or eat pizza,” she said as a pizza box circled around the counseling office.
In the end is all the Homecoming stress worth it? Despite all of the breakdowns, hours shopping and planning, and dropping grades, most students will agree the stress is worth it. Many high school students are already excited to attend again next year. “This is my first Homecoming but so far all of the planning has been fun, and I have been practicing doing my hair and makeup beforehand with my friends, and it has been really awesome,” said Traupe. Even for returning sophomores, many agreed the dance rose to their expectations. “I enjoy it because I know I will carry these memories with me throughout life, and my favorite part is getting ready with friends,” said Linhart.
As the Tuscarora High School’s doors closed, students exited with smiles on their faces. The night was a success with great music and flashing lights. The only reason anyone might have been sad was because the dance was over, but that only gives many students a reason to be excited for next year.