Environmental Extremism

A little more than four months ago, I arrived on this campus as an eager and excited new Lower. I leaped out of the car, breathed deeply, and thought to myself, “What a wonderful opportunity I have to pursue those activities that interest me!” I was eager to enroll in every club and every activity that attracted my interest. Indeed, it was because of the diversity of its activities that I decided to come to Andover. Yet as the year progressed, I slowly began to realize a social hierarchy presents in everything from sports to clubs to music. Although many in the Andover community are rewarded with high club and team positions because of their commitment, dedication, and aptitude for their respective activities, this hierarchical system has produced an environment that is anything but healthy in high school, making board positions, decisions, and even mere participation in some activities extremely political and competitive. Totally unaware that this would be the case, I threw myself into the heart of competition without even knowing it. I have just now come to realize the depth of Andover’s caste system. Before coming to this school I thought that I would never be the type of cutthroat politician that it takes to maneuver through such a minefield of a social hierarchy; however, as I became aware of it more and more, I began to be sucked in. I, myself, have become that which I thought I would never become. I myself have been cutthroat and excessively competitive. As I contemplated it more and more, I began to think “Is it worth it?” I have heard many stories about Andover students deceiving and openly criticizing other students to gain influence and respect. Some I have witnessed nearly reduced to tears at the stinging remarks and actions of their peers. I promote being active and involved in the community. I think it is healthy and rewarding for one to do what he enjoys in his free time. Yet to do it in such a way as to be so aggressive is not good for anyone, nor is it good for the Andover community in general. Student stress is an important issue at this school. The already challenging and competitive nature of this school is stressful enough. When one adds to the stress of academics and commitments, the stress involved in the politics involved in almost every extracurricular at this school, it easily becomes too much. While we should all appreciate the tremendous opportunities we have before us in the forms of different activities that we participate in, we must realize that we are still students and not politicians. There is no need to be excessively competitive at this school, or to stress about the minutia of school politics. Despite the politics and the hierarchy, I am glad that I came to Andover. Now that I am cognizant of the environment, I am prepared to handle it. However, I would like to urge every student on this campus to be neighborly and cordial to his peer. We are here to learn and experience, not to compete. There is enough on our plates as is. We shouldn’t have to worry about gaining influence and power – this is high school.