Opinion: Is Westlake High School Too Competitive?

Janan Shouman, Editor

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Before I came to Westlake High School, I always heard there were two types of students there: the people who didn’t care about their grades and the people who cared too much. I used to think that was an exaggeration, but boy was I wrong!

I enrolled in WHS last year (my junior year). I didn’t know what to expect for the curriculum or the pace of classes, so I decided to take regular and easier classes. I didn’t really mind having an easier schedule as long as I was actually learning something. Although I was satisfied with my schedule, other people would ask me what classes I was taking, and when I told them, they’d say a condescending “oh” (the type that everyone has heard at least once in their lifetime).

I brushed it off. But after telling them about my class choices, they’d act like they were above me or the I wasn’t good enough to talk to them. And it got harder to just brush it off.

In my senior year, I found that people like these are ubiquitous. I’ve seen other people make fun and yell at someone for making a really small mistake in class. Someone I’d never talked to before got mad at me for getting a better score on a test. But what’s worst is that this behavior is driven by the desire to get a good grade.

Not only do kids compete with each other, I realized last year that more people in my advanced classes cheat than in my regular classes.

The truth is that competitiveness doesn’t have to be a bad thing. And competitive environments have at times  made want to work harder and take on more challenging classes. It only starts to become a bad thing when people start to act like that being smart is a social status. That’s just not right. I understand that a lot of kids do get pressured heavily by their parents to be the best and to get into the best school, but I feel like at the end of the day kids here at WHS should stop caring about their grades or rank, instead should start to care more about learning.

In my two years at this high school, I haven’t yet heard someone say, “I actually learned something.”