Creating healthy, happy students

This year, the Greenwich High School student government is examining student workload and our first survey has gathered responses from almost 1,300 students.

The goal is to gain preliminary data on the amount of time students spend on homework and the quality of the work that they produce. According to our results, 65% of those students surveyed say that they spend more than three hours a night on homework, with 15% of them stating they spend five plus hours. 60% of the students “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with the statement that “most of the assignments I receive are ‘busy work,’” and 61% said that the amount of homework they do makes participating in extracurricular activities very difficult.

But the most important statistic was the number of students who said they felt excessive stress because of the amount of homework they have. While stress is a normal part of life, 76% of respondents felt excessive stress because of their workload. Obviously, that number is unhealthy and unacceptable.

There have been many different possible solutions proposed, ranging from no homework to a limit on the total number of AP classes a student can take. A solution has to uphold the GHS motto of “freedom with responsibility” while also ensuring that students are raised to be healthy members of society. That’s a challenging task and now that student government has received input from students, it is starting student-teacher dialogues about workload and working to find a solution that makes learning a healthy and productive process.

Another of GHS’s efforts to ensure a healthy and productive learning environment took place on Nov. 21, when the freshman class participated in the school’s fifteenth annual Names Can Really Hurt Us Day. The day is devoted to a series of presentations, discussions, and dialogue intended to make our school a more conscious, safe, and healthy place for all students.

The “names team” tackles tough questions about bullying and makes students reconsider the way they treat others. The team outlined four roles students occupy in bullying situations: targets, perpetrators, bystanders, and allies. Following the assembly, facilitators asked the freshmen to get into groups based on what role they believe they occupy.

One or two brave students stepped into the target group, a few admitted to being perpetrators of bullying and some categorized themselves as allies to those being bullied. The majority, however, identified themselves as bystanders. A bystander is a person who observes a conflict or unacceptable behavior, yet does not intervene.

Finding the courage to stand up in a bullying situation can be difficult, so the names team proposed several different ways to be an ally. My favorite solution from the day was something our Headmaster Christopher Winters has been an advocate of for many years; the small actions.

The small actions we take can have huge impacts on the lives of others. Common courtesies such as saying hello in the hallways, holding the door for someone behind you or even inviting someone new to sit at your lunch table can have a profound impact on the character and tone of the student body.

The freshman class is already developing its own personality. It will be exciting to see how it interprets and implements the many valuable lessons learned, and how it will continue to make our school a welcome place for all.


Henry Ricciardi is a senior at Greenwich High School.

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