The “Sophomore Slump” and Slowing Down by Xuan Ly

The second semester has just begun, and with it, the “Sophomore Slump.” I have passed through the excitement of freshman year, whose energy dragged me through the first semester, but now I have arrived at what feels like an endless loop of seemingly irrelevant classes. Although, to be clear, as a student, the subjects on my schedule is important, but as of right now there is no visible finish line. Sophomore year has slowly become a nightmare in which the hole I have fallen into is endless, which is cliche but I cannot find the brainpower to come up with anything new, and this endless hole describes my slump perfectly. Nothing is within reach, unlike the upperclassmen, who may have more difficult work, but are so close to the finish line. The juniors are almost seniors and the seniors are almost graduated. I, on the other hand, am just a sophomore.

College is on my mind. I find it looming over me without any clarity. Sure, as a sophomore maybe I shouldn’t be worrying about college, at least that is what I’m told. And yes, I don’t need to take the SATs or ACTs this year, but how can I stop myself from factoring in my entire future when deciding whether I should let myself relax on a Saturday or spend the whole day studying for chemistry test? I struggle to find the balance between producing quality work for my classes and enjoying the time I have before the real stress of the college application process. I feel like my mind is always calculating the best route for future success, which leaves the present me burnt out with no immediate gratification. Overtime, I’ve realized that the way students have been wired to learn is rarely for the joy of learning something new, but for the grades, which supposedly sets us up for a future that never seems to become the present.

When Heather heard about the sophomores’ predicament, she arranged what she called a “slunch,” or sophomore lunch. We gathered in her office and let go of our worries. Heather, Kaia, and Hannah baked delicious cookies to share, Emma brought popcorn, there was fruit, and chips that we all enjoyed. What I appreciated most about sitting together in Heather’s office, besides the realization of what our class had overcome in the past year, is that I don’t remember much of our conversations, and didn’t need to. To me, this indicates how effortless the conversations had been. In that small room, squished on Heather’s leather couch, I did not have to contemplate my next thought and what responses it would receive. I knew that everyone would just understand. I felt more engaged and relaxed at school than I had been for months.

In the past weeks, I found that when I admitted to myself that I am in said “slump,” my apathy for school grew exponentially, and I was no longer able to be lifted by a passing smile. But, I have learned how to slow down and focus on the present instead of the unknown. This includes recognizing and releasing the tension, caused by increasing negative energy, that I have fostered in my body. When I have trouble remembering what it is like to live solely in the present, I think back to our sophomore lunch. I think about the joy of being rooted in natural conversation that has nothing to do with school. In that small office decorated with pictures of alumni who have gone through what I am, I was able to see a light in the endless hole, or at least see other people falling with me. Now, looking at my classmates’ faces I think two things: 1) do I look that over it? 2) I totally understand you. I am able to laugh, which provides me with strength to continue on.

 

Xuan Ly, class of 2021

Sophomore Slumptch by Sequioa Hack

The relationship between high school and a student attending it is parallel to the relationship that an iron has with the shirt it’s ironing. Both are situations that one usually learns or experiences at a pivotal point in their lives – high school marking the last couple of years where dependence on parents for housing and food is necessary, while also being the first few years where independence is slowly gained. By knowing how to successfully iron, one gains a sense of professionalism that marks a newfound idea of maturity.

High school and ironing both offer a support center where problems can be solved – the teachers and the ironing board. However, if one of these support systems fails to carry out their purpose effectively, the impact on the person using the iron or attending high school can be varied and unpleasant. If an ironing board broke right before a job interview, one would have a wrinkled shirt that eventually may play a part in the hiring or lack of, specifically concerning the professionalism aspect of this prospective job. Now, if the teachers in a high school (or any school for that matter) fail to connect with the students they are in charge of for an hour each day, the student’s motivation to learn and show up for class is dissolved. This is a main factor in the existence of the “sophomore slump.”

The sophomore slump is a phenomenon that occurs in many teens during their second year of high school. It is a period of time when the sophomore realizes they aren’t close enough to the beginning of high school to be coddled but also aren’t at the point in their lives where exploring colleges is a necessity. Heather has noticed this boredom and feeling of uselessness that has erupted amongst the sophomores. As a result, during a lunch period this past week, Heather organized a lunch where all she and all the sophomores came together to talk and to combat the angst we were feeling. People brought lovely homemade cookies, fruit, popcorn, chips, and some nuts. We laughed, shared stories from weekends and past camping trips, and explored our favorite movies and TV shows. We were able to bond in a lovely, unstressed setting where nothing was expected of us other than to be kind to each other. The result of this lunch was a strengthened bond, shared between the ten girls of the CW class of 2021.

 

Sequoia Hack, class of 2021

 

 

Sophomore Year by Lauren Ainslie

Early in the semester we were given an article titled, “Is Literature Dead?” We then analyzed and discussed the points it brought up, which mostly centered around the rise of technology and the decline of literacy. It was old news, but I still became depressed when it mentioned cell phone addiction and the decrease of recreational reading, as I am afflicted with both. But just as I thought my mood would be ruined permanently, I remembered something that happened a few weeks before.

This was my first year with Mr. Slayton, a freshman/sophomore English teacher. Something he does as a warm up before starting class is pass out poetry, and then ask us to discuss and write about it. I won’t get too much into how I loathe the way he goes about this, but it usually doesn’t inspire much response from the class. We usually doodle until he tells us the answer and then we write it down and turn it in. This process is quite disheartening as a Creative Writing student, seeing the wonder of poetry be permanently corrupted in the eyes of my peers, but I learned to accept it.

This was true until the day we were given “Meeting at Night” by Robert Browning. It was one of the few poems he gave us that I actually liked, and I was happy to write about it. It was light and romantic, and used wonderful concise imagery. The discussion was livelier than usual, students giving personal opinions and guessing at the true meaning of the poem, especially one student, named Ben (His name was changed for privacy). I knew Ben was smart, we had physics together the year before, and he was quite outspoken. But in English he didn’t seem to possess the same passion or drive to participate, until now. When called on he spoke for a number of minutes on how perfect the language was, how he didn’t usually like poetry, but this was “crazy.” I watched him stare at his paper with uncharacteristic focus, hear him mutter “Wow,” and even shake his head in disbelief. “Meeting at Night” by Robert Browning had touched him, moved him, as cliché as it sounds, and it he looked astonished at his own reaction… Ben, the person I least expected, appreciated poetry, and it was wonderful to watch, funny, even.

So when asked the question “Is Literature Dead?” I say no. It’s lethargic, a little worn, but not dead. Ordinary people like me or Ben can be moved by it at any day and at any capacity, and from that experience, I know literature will live forever.  

Lauren Ainslie, class of 2021