When is it enough?

Sophomore Alex Hughes studies for an upcoming test.

Claire Elman

Sophomore Alex Hughes studies for an upcoming test.

Central is known for its academic and athletic excellence, ranking eleventh on U.S. News & World Report annual “Nation’s Best High Schools” and eleventh on the The Washington Post’s “Most Challenging High Schools” of 2014. Its sports teams won a total of eight state championships in the 2014/2015 school year. For students, its excellence is often overshadowed by the constant pressure to succeed that dictates students lives from freshmen to senior year.

With the amount of schoolwork handed to students depending on the type of class they enroll in, as well as the activities they feel compelled to participate in, stress is at an all time high. Students often sleep less than five hours a night, and sacrifice much in order to keep up with the rigorous coursework.

“I sacrifice sleep most of the time…I have had to sacrifice things like missing [lacrosse] and youth group for studying for exams or doing homework in order to prepare for the next day,” said Kendall Napier, sophomore.

Students feel pressure to stand out, which is a difficult feat at Central, walking the same hallways as national and state champions in their respective sports, as well as students who take on impossible schedules of classwork, some even earning a 6.0 GPA. While Central no longer recognizes a valedictorian, it still honors the top 2 percent.

In an environment that encourages excellence, students often struggle to find a balance between their extracurriculars, coursework and personal lives that keep them physically, emotionally, and mentally sound.

“[Colleges want students to find] balance and quantity vs. quality in their activities. Colleges want you to make a connection between your passions and what clubs you’re involved in,” said Ms. Teresa Marshall, guidance counselor.

Students find themselves having a difficult time maintaining the boundary between successful and stressful.

Balancing life with work is a concept that even adults struggle with, and putting the pressure on high school students to find this balance is a lesson that comes with maturity, which escapes many high school students.

This expectation of perfection is hurting more than helping, and if this pressure continues to exist, students’ performances will eventually decline.