By Libby Kamrowski, Timberline High School Intern to ThurstonTalk
On September 4, school doors opened county-wide to welcome students to the 2013-2014 school-year. For Timberline High School, the mad dashes to class were punctuated by a jarring 7:30 a.m. bell, perhaps the largest factor contributing to back-to-school dread.
“The hardest adjustment is changing my sleep schedule. Going to bed early and waking up early are two things I didn’t do much this summer,” said senior Natalie Sypeck. This early-morning, pre-dawn struggle was nearly unanimously agreed to be the biggest challenge for students.
Despite lost time for REM cycles, the rest of the waking hours have proved to give ample time for ambitious goal-setting. For junior Maggie Taft, hope floats with music notes. “I play clarinet, and the past few years I’ve taken part in the solo and ensemble competition. I have really high hopes of going to state this year, and I’ve been working on several different aspects of my playing. I hope it pays off,” Taft said.
Goals can have tangible successes, but can also measure mental maturity. Visual arts teacher Aimee Leggett personally encourages students to make goals. “It’s a great way for them to see that they’re making progress, and then push beyond their goal to see what they’re capable of.” As a teacher, Leggett sees both the artistic growth of her students as a result of her teaching, as well as the growth in personality as she encourages students to be expressive.
The high school student is often mischaracterized with the image of slouching teen, lazy and careless. But students in all grades at Timberline High School seem to demonstrate quite the contrary, as their attitudes proved to be motivated and invested in the future.
The school year begins more than just a six and a half hour day. It’s not simply attending school: it’s getting ready for an hour each morning to look presentable, attending classes and keeping up in the social spheres, if one cares to, staying on campus for sports, clubs, tests, or volunteering. School is simply the visage under which these other time-sucking tasks take over.
Senior Jonah Tucker is very involved. He’s enrolled in AP courses, a swinger for the varsity basketball team, and participates in school spirit. “I’m most excited for the basketball season, but also watching the football and volleyball games. I’m really stoked to see the theater company’s productions,” Tucker said. He wakes up at 5:30 every morning for school, attends classes as well as basketball workouts regularly, and is exhausted after a rigorous day. Like many students, Tucker will get back in the habit of power napping once again.
The transition to busy schedules can lead to anxiety. Adjusting from lackadaisical days of inner-tubing down the Deschutes River to the shock of a demanding, sleep-deprived day of test-taking is something students are well aware of.
For sophomore Kris Stewart, the “before” scene consisted of relaxation and bike riding with friends and the “after” includes the frenzy of Advanced Placement fueled worry about tests. “I’m already feeling anxious about the AP exams that I’ll be taking in the second semester, but I think that once I focus on the present, I’ll feel better,” says Stewart.
Taft has similar sentiments about the seemingly earth-shattering exams. “I took my first AP exam last year, and it was a living nightmare. And I’m taking two this year. But it’s something that I have to do, it’s something I have to get through.”
But for some pupils, particularly freshman, the daunting enormity and mystery of the high school scene is cause enough for anxiety. Komachin and Aspire Middle Schools funnel into Timberline’s 3A population of 1,700. A population upgrade in comparison to Komachin’s three “Wolf Den” divisions maintaining 350 students each and Aspire with a total enrollment of 300.
To ease the nerves of freshmen and new students, the Blazer Citizen program was started thirteen years ago by counselor Sharon LaBuda and athletic director Pat Geiger, designed with a welcoming orientation and activities to acquaint students with high school. “Orientation helped me figure out where all the classes were. I also met upperclassmen and saw that they weren’t jerks,” freshman Mikayla Jarvis said.
Freshman Matthew Hancock has the upper hand in the transition from middle to high school. He took a math class at Timberline during middle school and is already familiar with the campus and maturity expectations. “I’m not anxious about the school necessarily. I’m more anxious about the workload,” Hancock said.
Aside from altered shuteye schedules and workload worries, the year has started with a generally optimistic outlook. “I have a pretty positive outlook on this year,” Sypeck said. “High school has gotten better for me every year; I hope the same will happen this year.”