Students who juggle sports, advanced placement courses, honors classes and other things are under enormous stress, but are finding that high achieving students combat stress with balance.
At Nicolet High School senior Sammi Castle is one such student. She juggles three Advanced Placement courses, two honors classes, four clubs, two sports, and an internship. She is also completing seven college applications.
"Everyone's driven," Castle said. "But everyone's also sick of it."
The packed schedule of high achieving students is typical, and a cause for concern among faculty and counselors, as well as parents.
Kenneth Ginsburg, a pediatrician at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia spoke this week to students at Nicolet and other Milwaukee North Shore high schools about handling stress and expectation that are outsized. While the message was geared to the high performing high school students it had value across the area in suburban schools that serve primarily affluent families.
Ginsberg's concerns focus on the increase of issues like drinking, drugs, depression and eating disorders, which are at a higher rate in affluent schools than in middle class and urban districts. He teaches the "seven crucial C's" - competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping and control. He wants students to build strong relationships and find healthy strategies for coping with stress and anxiety. To him, the goal is not creating successful high school students, but creating successful adults.
The appearance of Ginsburg was sponsored by RedGen. This is a group of North Shore parents, administrators, and mental health professionals promoting balance and wellness in young people. The formation of the group was a response to three back to back suicides in 2013.
Ginsburg told parents that it is vital to show that love is unconditional. And he reminded students "You have control over how your parents view you. Let them know who you are beyond your grades and awards." He also encouraged students to follow fields which interest them, not just fields they are expected to follow.