Class of 2020: a student’s perspective
After a bright summer kaleidoscope of colour and adventure, Warwick Academy Year 12 students are stepping bravely into their final academic year at the school. The sound of the bell ringing at 8.30am on September 4 symbolised the beginning of the end, but the start of a pivotal transitional period, for these young adults.
During this time, students will face many academic and personal milestones; as well as a whirlwind of emotions.
When asked about the emotions that may be brewing inside of them with regards to the upcoming year, the students shared a similar outlook.
“I am very stressed about my last year,” Ellie Cordeiro, Warwick's deputy head girl, said.
Upon further questioning, it became clear that a main source of the students' stress stemmed from the pressure of upholding the school's excellent academic legacy; a stressor which students from any school can relate to.
“There is pressure to succeed academically … [from] my parents wanting me to succeed. And, of course, I want to be successful as well,” said Seth Malpas, a member of the 2019 Youth National Bermuda Volleyball team.
Ellie felt the same way about her last year and the academic pressure that accompanies it.
“I would consider the academic environment [at Warwick Academy] to be quite demanding, but the main pressure to succeed comes from myself.
“I want to do the best I can and feel obligated to meet the high standards which my teachers expect.”
Amani Simons, a peer of Ellie's, said: “I feel pressure from parents, teachers; basically anyone who is contributing to my learning. But, I do put pressure on myself, mostly, as I want to make my parents proud. They have sacrificed to put me in private school.”
Amani Simons continued to say: “I am worried about my upcoming exams in February and in May.”
In the upcoming year, Warwick Academy students will sit two sets of examinations; one set of mock examinations in the winter, and the final International Baccalaureate examinations in the spring.
While preparing for those crucial examinations, students must also complete internal assessments for each course they are enrolled in.
These examinations are precisely how students will sustain the academic standards that Warwick Academy has upheld for over three hundred and fifty years; it is no surprise then, as to why students are stressed about them.
“I am someone who, sometimes doesn't do as well in exams, [as] I learn from experience. [I feel] tests don't always show the extent of my capabilities,” Amani said. “I personally do not like standardised tests. I feel I can't showcase my personality, through my answers,” Ellie added.
Other than examinations, Amani said her main worry was “graduating and going off to college”.
The stress the students are already feeling as they approach their last year have had some negative effects as well.
Amani Simons said: “I cry when I get really stressed [then] I start freaking out, because I can't focus.”
Stress affects Ellie Cordeiro in a different way.
When stressed, Ellie said: “I may not act like myself around my family. I feel unmotivated … I lose my personality, because all I'm focused on, is all the work I have to do.”
The way the students cope with this stress, which is ultimately inevitable, is very integral to healthy development and transitioning into adulthood.
The Warwick Academy seniors detailed some of the strategies they utilise to get relief from, and manage, the tumultuous feelings that follow this transitional period.
“Exercise is definitely a good coping mechanism,” said Ellie who is a seasoned dancer at In Motion School of Dance. “[Exercise] makes me feel relaxed and productive.”
Imani Phillips, who holds the Student Leadership position of captain of Robertson House at the school, also accredits exercise for helping her relieve stress.
“I work out [to cope with the stress]. Tennis, boxing and field hockey have been great ways of taking my mind off of school.”
Amani Simons has another healthy strategy for dealing with the stress and its negative effects.
“I listen to music, mostly. I also take a break and watch a movie I like, or hang [out] with friends … I also stay organised to avoid extra stress.”
Having students share the ways they deal with stress and pressure helps other students understand that there are positive, practical ways to work through what they are feeling.
Sometimes, even just a change in perspective can make all the difference, when attempting to cope with pressure.
Warwick Academy deputy head girl Kiran Bhola views the academic pressure as having positive effects on her work ethic.
“The teachers I have interacted with during my time at Warwick Academy have told me that I have so much more potential than what I am achieving, and they push me to try harder, which feels really encouraging. I believe they are willing to work with me to become a better student.”
Seth Malpas also views, as a positive, the academic pressure, although he admits it is stressful.
“The academic environment at Warwick Academy is pretty good,” Seth said. “I feel like it will prepare me well for university life.”
Ellie stated that in addition to exercise: “Just accepting that you are not the only one in the situation [is a positive coping strategy].”
This is very true. While students who are approaching this critical time in their development may feel stressed, they should never feel as though they are embarking on this journey alone. This is because the title “Class of 2020” does not only apply to one person.
Not only does it describe Warwick Academy students, and even students from different schools island-wide; it is a title that applies to thousands of students all over the globe, all experiencing similar pressures and emotions. Therefore, it is also important that students understand they can help each other process and work through such an interesting time in their lives; even in ways as small as just answering questions for a newspaper article.
Sharing positive coping strategies with their peers, who may not be aware of them, as well as being transparent about what they are going through is a coping strategy in itself, but also a way to promote unity and empathy, among their peers.