ShearerTeachers complain about students who over-socialize during the school day. But this constant social activity doesn’t necessarily mean that students are developing the types of social skills they need to be successful. Studies have shown that students who more confidently utilize socialization in all aspects of their lives are many times more successful than those who do not.

I’m not talking Twitter and Instagram here; I’m talking about the social functions that schools provide during the day as well as outside school hours. This can range anywhere from group learning activities to school sports and extracurriculars that help students bond and develop social connections. It’s clear that those who know how to better navigate the social scene have a more positive schooling experience, which is why I believe that the administration should put more effort into creating positive social environments that are available to everyone.

At Wilsonville High School, we pride ourselves on our school spirit and on the support the student body and faculty show for the various clubs and teams that play a part in our social scene. But shouldn’t this type of sponsored social interaction be applied to things that can boost individual development instead of just creating school unity?

Students should be encouraged to join clubs that interest them and should participate in before and after-school activities with their peers because they want to, not because they get some academic award or special ropes at graduation because of it.

Having completed three years of high school, I frequently look back and wish that I had been more aware social opportunities and had taken part in creating new opportunities for my peers to enhance their social skills.

The main problem that we face in gaining support for these environments is the lack of significance that they are given. One cannot expect high-schoolers — the supreme followers of the world — to accept something that isn’t already widely accepted. In order to create a larger support system, we need authority figures pushing students to take part in these activities and making them more accessible through cooperative scheduling and by providing multiple opportunities.

Another fundamental aspect of socialization is that students prefer to interact where they feel comfortable, and while boosting school unity may help to put students at ease, it certainly does not push students into new situations. We need to put greater effort into making all students feel welcome in all activities.

In my opinion, this can be done in many ways, one of which is by advertising to all student groups. Often social activities and the information about them is directed at those who reside at the top of the social food chain, and while this might make for an exclusive event, the idea is the include everyone. Providing information in class about events would provide a chance for teachers to compel their students to participate, not only because is everyone informed but also because the teachers can use their position of authority to promote such functions to a set of pupils that are familiar with and comfortable in the classroom.

Actions as simple as these can greatly increase social participation in high school and opportunities for success among students.

Laura Shearer is a junior at Wilsonville High School. She contributed this column as part of her application to become a student columnist for the Spokesman next school year.

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