The lives of teenagers are put under constant stress through school, work, family, extracurriculars, and multiple other stressors that occur in everyday life. Alton High Schoo lsenior Emma Morrissey created a research paper in CP English 4 Honors about her “educated guess” on what success is and how the stress of achieving it affects the lives of young people allover the world.
Morrissey’s research paper was presented as a discussion during the “HUDtalks” done on Dec. 11, in the AHS auditorium. HUDtalks are modeled on TEDtalks, which arediscussionbased talks that touch on important worldly ideals. Jeffery Hudson, English chairmanand creator of HUDtalks, also got his inspiration from Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture.” Pauschtells of his Carnegie Mellon students’ artificial intelligence projects, how they presented their projects in an auditorium as well.
“The research paper, as traditionally taught, is something to dread and put off. It too oftenis an exercise in collecting note cards and formatting precision. I knew I wanted the paper tohave more relevance; I knew I wanted this work to have an authentic audience and a life beyondthe classroom. For HUDtalks, we send special invitations to people with a vested interest in the topics and papers being presented,” said Hudson.
Morrissey wrote her paper specifically on stress. “ One of the things that I want to makesure everyone realizes is that we have more value as people than just our grades and test scores.You don’t have to be an engineer to be happy with your life, and ultimately, what matters most isyour happiness and your comfort,” said Morrissey. She believes that there is more to life thanjust numbers. Future jobs should be based on passion rather than money, which seems to be how success is measured in the American society.
“Of course school is stressful, but I’m not always certain the sources of stress are worth our worry. I think when students have some autonomy over audience and purpose, the work hasnew relevance beyond just a grade (appearance). When work has that sort of relevance and impact on an actual audience, the struggle and stress and reward/feedback are worth it, feel less hollow or superficial,” said Hudson.This stress leads to harsh action taken by its victims. “The second most common causeof death is suicide for people ages 1034; it’s no coincidence that this is also the age group that isunder immense social and financial pressure to perform “well” in school. “What we all need toaccept and celebrate is that we each have different talents and we each must play a different rolein the world,” stated Morrissey. Suicide is an extremely serious action; once it is taken there isno going back. The stress students face regularly may build up to a point of no return. Studentscould begin to get overwhelmed and they may think suicide is the only way out. Even in the workforce, young people do their best to perform their jobs well, but when a mistake is made, it may overpower them.