The Student News Site of Canyon Hills High School

Canyon Hills Chronicle

The Student News Site of Canyon Hills High School

Canyon Hills Chronicle

The Student News Site of Canyon Hills High School

Canyon Hills Chronicle

Dueling Perspectives: Apathy in School

Just because you don’t care now doesn’t mean you won’t care later

By Mia Webster, Staff Writer

Students without direction or plans are sabotaging their future selves because of their it doesn’t matter attitude. The definition of apathy is “a lack of goal-directed activity and motivation compared to previous behavior” and this is aggressively affecting Juniors and Seniors. You might have heard of senioritis but it seems that this concept is coming sooner every year.

Graduation is an end to a never-ending story, you have time. (Mia Webster)

 The thought of college and a new beginning gives two paths to the now juniors and seniors, one is mentally detaching because they screwed up so badly in their previous years and two is mentally detaching because they are ready for the next step. Both are reflected in basic apathy for school and anything to do with their future. The I don’t care only takes you so far in life before it smacks you in the face with the big fat it’s too late hand.

Every student is guilty of blowing off work just because or hating school because it’s a lot of work because it is. The difference between being bored and over it but still doing your work is very different from complete and absolute detachment. This may be triggered by the overwhelming fear of the unknown which some students and young adults struggle with. 

The best way for someone to combat this is to close their mind to the current situation and moment. If they take baby steps with the majority of people they will be facing these issues in a sea of people vs alone and scared. This means they are facing issues currently that they have no control over, and they also might be set behind because they have been holding themselves back internally to postpone the inevitable.

Apathy as a rite of passage

By Rachel Brandel, Journalism Advisor

About 20 years ago, it was my firm and unrelenting belief that I went to the worst high school on the planet. The teachers sucked. The administration was mean and hated kids. The classes didn’t prepare us for anything. In fact, I referred to my school on more than one occasion as a prison, whose singular role was to keep all students penned in for hours a day against our will. I even likened the principal to a tyrant, hell bent on ruining my teenage years.

Sound familiar?

Before you write this off as a sermon by yet another adult, my intention is not to diminish or make fun of students’ waning opinions of campus life. Rather, I want simply to point out that, like so many things teenagers experience, hating your high school is akin to a rite of passage like a first kiss or walking across the stage at graduation. 

For me, despite my ramblings and misanthropy, when it came to high school, I was still involved. I played sports, wrote for the newspaper, participated in multiple clubs, took AP and honors classes and graduated in the top 20 of my class. Looking back now, with adult eyes, I see my high school experience in a much different light – one of gratitude for the experiences I had and the opportunities I was afforded.

Of course, that was hardly how I felt at the time. My high school was the enemy. 

But I was fortunate. Even though I often felt disconnected from my school, I wasn’t. I had good friends who shared the same goals I had for the future. We pushed each other to stay involved in school activities and keep our grades up. And even though I often felt estranged from the teachers and staff, I actually had built strong relationships with several teachers, who got to know me well, and that wrote me letters of recommendation when I applied for college. 

Other students who went to my high school, I’m sure, were not so lucky as I. The feelings of apathy and disgust they had for the school did hold them back. They didn’t participate. They didn’t build relationships. They didn’t complain and engage. And so they dropped out or barely made it through, lost touch, squandered whatever opportunities they had.

Complaints are so commonplace to the teenage experience that parents, teachers and other adults often write them off as white noise. The trouble with that perspective, which I see now as a teacher, is that apathy often grows from these seemingly ordinary complaints. And while the ubiquity of hating your school hasn’t changed much in the last 20 years, the ease by which students can slip into apathy has. 

Twenty years ago, if you wanted to ditch class, your only option was to sit alone in a bathroom stall and stare at what someone had written on the door. These days, you can scroll endlessly through social media or text your friends to meet up. For all the good they’ve done, cell phones have also created a pathway for students to effortlessly disengage from school and from the world around them. 

With your AirPods in and a screen in your face, you can turn off the world and be somewhere else. You don’t have to think about the friends you don’t have or the grades that haven’t improved or the impending future you don’t yet feel prepared for. And that can be a good thing. To disconnect and forget your troubles is a blessing, but when it comes at the cost of self-improvement and growth, that’s when it becomes problematic.

As I look at the Canyon Hills campus and student body, I don’t see anything that different from my high school 20 years ago. Most students want to be successful. They want to find their way. They want to be accepted and be happy. And they think CHHS sucks and the teachers suck and the classes are too hard or not hard enough and they just want to go home and sleep in and have everyone quit bothering them because their lives are inexorably hard. 

Those aren’t the students I worry about though. To complain is to be a high school student. It’s your rite and I wouldn’t try to take that away from you. The students that I worry about are the ones whose complaints I never hear. The students I worry about haven’t been to class in weeks. The students I worry about are the ones who still think it’s cool not to care, to be aloof and lack passion.

The students who roam around campus during class and hang out with their friends are a thorn in the side of every adult on campus not because we seek to control and imprison you in class, but because we worry about you. It’s true that you can get your diploma without playing a sport or joining a club or caring at all. It’s true that you can skip your classes to hang out with friends and just make up the credits in night school or summer school. 

But what no one tells you is that it isn’t your GPA that really matters outside of high school. It is the person you become. You have a unique opportunity as a teenager to be passionate, to care about something, to actually learn. If you take the easy way (see: night school or iHigh), you’ve lost an opportunity to actually learn something. I don’t mean learning the quadratic equation or stoichiometry or to write a killer thesis statement. Those are good skills to have that might help you in college, but I’m talking about learning commitment to a long term goal. I’m talking about practicing being responsible for being somewhere at a certain time day after day. I’m talking about learning how to think critically about the world around you. You just won’t get the same life experience staring at a computer in the counseling office for a few weeks as you do in a classroom for a school year. 

When you graduate, you have to get a job, make a living, support your family. Take it from me, you just won’t have the same time to explore the world around you and get to know yourself after high school and college. Apathy, the urge to do nothing, care about nothing, is seductive, but it’s like driving in circles: you burn a lot of fuel and get nowhere.

So, take my advice. Have your cake and eat it too. Keep complaining, but don’t stop engaging. Keep your eyes open to the many opportunities around you that are so very much within your reach. Put your phone down. Play a sport. Join a club. Go to class. You can say it’s because you’re forced to by the overlords of the school, but in your heart, know that it’s because you are committed to you. You are committed to being a better version of you than you were yesterday. You will only regret the things you didn’t do.

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About the Contributor
Rachel Brandel, Advisor
Rachel Brandel teaches 10th grade English and acts as the advisor for both the CHHS Journalism program as well as AVID for upperclassmen. She chose to go into teaching after a decade working in marketing and business. In that first career, she worked alongside the media as a publicist and developed content for nonprofits and Fortune 500 companies. Graduating from Patrick Henry High School, she has an undergraduate degree in English from Cal Poly, SLO and her Masters in Business Administration from San Diego State University, which is also where she got her teaching credential. In her spare time, she loves to read, cook, exercise and spend time with family.
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