October has arrived yet again, bringing with it the familiar dreary weather and increasing pace of the school year. As assignments begin to pile up, the sun sets ever earlier and temperatures grow more chill, it is easy to become lost in the rat race and ultimately discouraged.
However, in light of this, our life here at Terrace is still filled with bright spots that can be easily seen if you know where to look for them. For seniors, although it may seem so far away, graduation is right around the corner. Between now and then, though, almost the entirety of senior year still awaits us. With so much time left to make our impact on the community, let’s focus on how we can leave the school a better place than the way we found it when we first walked in four years ago.
For the rest of the school populace, the month of October represents a time to reflect on the impact that each of us has on the school that plays such a significant role in each of our daily lives. If we wish to act as responsible members of our community, then we must look out for each other and ensure we are doing everything we can so that no one is left behind.
Out of all the lessons that one can learn from the high school experience, perhaps among the most important is that we are all in this together. At an elemental level, we are all working toward the same primary goals. In the short term, we hope to graduate high school and advance to some form of post-high school occupation, whether that be college, employment or something else entirely. Long term, most of us hope to find some way to live a happy and successful life, although the specific image of this concept varies for each individual.
It can thus be reasoned that, since we are all working toward the same fundamental goals, we should focus on helping each other reach new heights. When we craft a supportive community that builds each other up instead of tearing each other down, then everyone at the school is free to thrive at their fullest potential.
As the famous American educator Horace Mann once said, “Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves.” If we do not take the time to help others around us succeed and find the happiness that all people deserve, then we have a far harder time achieving happiness and success ourselves. A lone flower, after all, does not make a garden.
At the beginning of every year, Hawkeye staff members participate in a “geese” activity, in which everyone is arranged to fly in a formation reminiscent of migrating geese. While this may seem random, the point of the exercise is to show how each member of the organization fits into the whole. When a singular goose struggles, the other geese flying around it flap their wings harder to compensate for the struggling goose and keep the formation smoothly flying toward its destination.
If we think of the school in this way, as individuals within a whole that keep each other afloat even when some may struggle, then our community may come to resemble the seamlessness with which geese ensure all of their flock reach the intended target.
As for October itself, it need not be a time of despair. For those in the festive spirit, October represents the first in a series of months to embrace the celebratory mood. As Halloween approaches, it is time to prepare costumes, watch horror movies and perhaps carve a pumpkin or two. Before long, Thanksgiving, and the long-awaited break from school that accompanies it, will arrive, allowing us all to recuperate strength to get through the remainder of school until the relief of winter break.
Nevertheless, if you begin to see that your spirit is becoming as gray as the sky overhead, know that you are not alone. Although it may be cliché to describe one’s mood worsening with the weather, it is a widely observed phenomenon, especially in the famously rainy Seattle area. The number of people who exhibit fully-fledged seasonal affective disorder may be low, but it can admittedly be hard to stay cheerful amidst a gloomy backdrop.
It certainly does not help that stress often piles on at the same time that the sun begins to grow ever more distant. If one is not careful, this combination can prove catastrophic for mental health.
So as you look out for others, make sure you are taking care of yourself as well. If you find yourself too stressed out for an extended time period, give yourself some extra sleep or dedicate time to merely relax while not thinking about work or any other obligations. Those Cornell notes or that essay are important, but they should never take precedence over your physical or mental health.
Ultimately, the most important thing is to look after your own health and the health of the Terrace community as a whole. While the school year will continue to get more and more intense, if we support each other and put health as a top priority, then I’m confident we can collectively make it through yet another winter season.