Opinion: WA is losing sleep over perfection


A student is overwhelmed with balancing school work and sleep

Kayla Chavier, Features Editor

Teary eyes and sunken hearts, sleep deprivation and self-deprecation–are all of these worth “perfection”?

Westford Academy has a reputation of having flawless students. It is a well-known school that has not only excellent teachers and a productive and helpful program, but also dedicated and kind students.  However, the other side of the pressure to be perfect is less known.

I have friends who, for three days in a row, sleep no more than three hours every night.  They are committed to being unstoppable athletes, excellent performers, or straight-A students.  They deal with family pressures, commitment to jobs or extra curricular activities, and still arrive at school every day at seven-thirty in the morning, worn-out and sleep deprived.

Where is the line between perfection and a healthy lifestyle drawn?

Competitiveness prevents students from being healthy and confident.  The moment a teacher hands back any significant grade, students react with either an elevation in egotism or intense anxiety.  They have the need to prove themselves worthy of perfection, and if they achieve a grade below their expectations, the entire world seems to end.

Furthermore, the process of achieving this perfection requires downplaying the importance of sleep.  I recently learned in my psychology class that starting the school day later in some states resulted in less tardiness and an improvement in grade point averages; adding to the idea that sleep really does mean success.

Talking to family and friends from schools outside of Westford, I hear of all the stereotypes surrounding the town.  They assume the students are nice, attractive, and come from wealthy, perfect families.  WA is a high-ranking school in a leading state in the United States.  Nonetheless, attention focused on Westford’s “perfection” should be drawn to the importance of sleep in personal health.

Some days, I try to sit back and listen to the students around me.  Frankly, I am tired of the focus of discussion being failures in school.  A “B” is the new “F”, and a “C” means no sleep, baggy eyes, tears, and disappointment.

We need to change our outlook at this school.  They say perfection is impossible, so why are we losing sleep over it?

Teachers stress sleep and personal health, yet they have to follow a curriculum in which students cram tests, essays, and long term assignments into the week before break.  This leaves little room for exercise, personal enjoyment, and most importantly, rest.  My guidance counselor recently advised me to remember to take time for myself.  This guidance should be considered by all WA students.

WA needs to remind students that one of the most important aspects of their lives is personal health.  I am a strong believer in the fact that education makes the world better and knowledge helps people to understand others and pursue their passions.  However, students cannot possibly enjoy their education or feel happy without maintaining good health.

I suggest the school takes better measures to send this message to the students, reminding them that passion, focus, and achievement are important as long as sleep is in the equation as well.

The world doesn’t end with a bad grade, but rather when we don’t take care of ourselves.  To save sleep and confidence at this school, we should start teaching self-love rather than perfection.