Editorial: Your exhaustion, stress & anxiety are real


Kalani Peters-White

This year has been unprecedented. That is a statement that we have all heard way too often over the last year.

The pandemic has forced school districts and students to adapt to new work methods and standards changed our social interactions and altered the celebrations of the most formative experiences in our lives. The pandemic and our education system’s response to it have taken more from students without giving them anything in return.

We at The Eagle’s Eye believe that it is time for students and teachers to reflect on the parts of this year that affected us the hardest, to appreciate, criticize and grieve this involuntary experiment we have had to participate in.

For this year, we believe in mourning. There has been an insurmountable year of grief. From the countless lives lost to COVID-19, to mass shootings, to the normal tragedies of life, the physical loss has been indescribable. No year can really come and go without someone you know losing a family member or a beloved pet but this year we entered an echo chamber of pain with no time off. The rules to excuse absences in regards to funeral services are abhorrent. They create a standard for students that will never be upheld in a workplace.

Grief is physical just as much as it is mental. The ache that leaves us almost unable to eat or exist among those who are alive while living in the love left by the person we lost often leaves people immobilized. However, our state’s school finance system currently does not allow for students to process and experience that pain, without them suffering academic consequences or funding consequences for our schools.

In addition to the resounding physical loss experience this year many have to mourn the loss of experiences. Graduating from high school is the first of many astounding accomplishments in students’ lives and this year there hasn’t been much celebration in comparison to years past. It’s been a senior year devoid of friends and college visits, devoid of moments of celebrations for acceptance in a room of friends. All of this has left many feeling empty, unsure, and unsupported, a devastating feeling for what should be a time of rejoicing at this milestone.

All of this adds up to say that students need a space to breathe, to manage these big feelings, to reflect on these things, to mourn. We at The Eagle’s Eye believe in mental health days without repercussion. More often than not, it is hard to find this space, as taking one day off means falling weeks behind in classes and other obligations.

In all of the craziness of this year, making time to pause and sit with our feelings is not easy, but nonetheless important for our mental health. Between what seems like the never-ending pile of things to do and the abnormalities of living during a pandemic, we believe in taking time off to heal from the scars that this year has left us with.

Our school system in itself is inherently flawed, unsympathetically expecting us to stare at our screens for 8 or more hours a day, five days a week as if we all don’t have other things on our plates. It is the same daunting school system that is requiring teachers to input at least one grade per week, ultimately adding loads of unnecessary stress to both students and teachers.

This is not a normal school year and it does not make sense to treat this year like it is one. We are undeniably in the midst of a global crisis and our school system needs to stop pretending like we are able to handle the same rigor we once did.

We believe in being human. As such, the system should be more considerate in terms of giving students time off to recover during this school year, which has taken a toll on us like no other. Students should be able to take several mental health days off throughout the year without worrying about missing classes or makeup work. This will allow students to grieve our losses, take in all that we’ve missed out on, and return stronger and well-rested. If our school system can afford to bring students back during a pandemic to take standardized tests, why can’t they afford to ensure that its students have the opportunity to recuperate from all of this year’s distress?

In all of the challenges we have faced this past year, it is unreasonable to expect students to adhere to the same standards as in previous years. We are tired of our hurt being dismissed by the school system, which should adapt to a holistic approach to addressing all aspects of students’ lives. Students are more than just the ‘one grade per week’ or more than a standardized test score. We need time to cope with what has been taken from us this year, from physical losses to mental losses.

This is no small feat to ask of our education system. In the real world, there is no pause button. A painful fact we have become all too familiar with but as students mourn and drown in the sheer amount of assignments. We just want clemency. We believe students should be allowed to fall behind and catch up without feeling so much shame from their teachers that a wall is put up.

We believe in vulnerability and emotional intelligence. We believe in creating a culture of quality work without having to sacrifice your physical and mental health to accomplish it. As we stare down what has already begun being called the greatest mental health crisis the United States will ever face. We at The Eagle’s Eye believe in changing for the better.