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Lakeridge High School sophomore Sara Shallenberger shares her thoughts on high school

SHALLENBERGEREvery morning, without fail, students complain about school. With sleepy eyes and a stomach full of dread, we moan of the stress and tests, whine over homework, and curse teachers and annoying classmates. But as much as kids dread waking up early and spending hours on homework, school is a necessary evil in our lives. I hate to admit it, but we need school.

There are the obvious arguments why students should attend classes and not skip out on every lesson. For example, I need to attend class in order to participate in group projects. I must learn the material and take the tests to get high grades. I should try to excel so I can get into a good college, which will hopefully provide the opportunities to start a successful career.

However, as much as grades and college prep motivate me to drag my sleep-deprived body to seven hours of work and lecture five days a week, it's the structure of school that most students couldn't live without.

First, going to school provides an opportunity to meet new people. School is a time to discover your passions and find activities that are meaningful to you. By engaging in these activities, students meet new people and form lasting relationships. Without school, many teenagers wouldn't have the motivation to find a group activity in order to make friends. At Lakeridge, I've met some of my best friends in my classes and in the music and drama programs. But if I didn't have to attend school, you could probably find me sitting on my couch, alone, binge-watching "Friends" for the fifth time. The fact is, without going to class Monday through Friday, kids and teens wouldn't have chances to form lasting relationships, depriving them of social skills and emotional security.

Secondly, school allows you to discover new fields and passions. If kids had the freedom to focus solely on one activity, they'd be blind to the whole world of possibilities that public education forces you to explore. If I had complete control over my studies, I'd be taking a full load of theater, music, literature and history classes, but I wouldn't be exposed to science and math. School's required classes force students to become well-rounded people. Instead of allowing students to become experts in only one subject, school forces students to gain preliminary knowledge on a wide variety of topics. Also, foreign or dull subjects may become interesting in the hands of a teacher that exposes you to the complexity or value of the material.

Finally, school instills healthy habits. There's no doubt that our weekend routines vary from our weekday ones: we get up hours later, procrastinate on tasks, and treat ourselves to junk food and constant snacking. Imagine if every day was a weekend — would we get anything done? Lying in a pile of pancakes and Cheez-Its, teenagers may become fat, lazy and unmotivated. School gives us a reason to stay healthy and get things done. It forces students to rise early instead of lethargically staying in bed. It gives tasks a time frame and a deadline so students finish things faster. It encourages us to eat healthy so we'll have energy for the day, instead of succumbing to the stomach-sucking torture of large, sugary meals — and occupies our time between meals so we don't snack when we're bored. The bottom line is, school structures our time so that the few hours we have left over are used in a healthy and productive way.

I love complaining about school — it's a pastime of mine — but could I live a happy life without it? Probably not. I appreciate summer break, but if I was given any more free time, I'd fall into a pit of procrastination, filled with my personal favorite snack foods of dried pineapple and bananas. The fact is, school makes students more social, interesting and healthy people, despite the arduous tests and hours of homework. So I'll take a minute to appreciate what school has done for my life — but after that's done, I'll probably go back to complaining.

Lakeridge High School sophomore Sara Shallenberger is one of two Pacer Notes columnists. Reach her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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