Viola Lives Matter: Students lose passion for extracurricular activities, result of pressures of maintaining this school’s reputation

Natalie Khamis

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After almost six years of playing the viola, performing in over 20 concerts, and countless hours of practicing, I can confidently say orchestra holds a special place in my heart. From receiving my very first piece of sheet music to performing a whole symphony, that place in my heart grew and my love for the orchestra program became stronger.

Over the years, the orchestra program has shaped me as a person in many ways. I have met some of my closest friends through the orchestra program, in which we spend every Tuesday night from 6 to 9 p.m. and every Thursday after school from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. making music and memories. My taste in music has also significantly changed. Who needs the wild fire-spitting tracks of Travis Scott when you can listen to the sweet melodies of Tchaikovsky?

But most of all, my orchestra class is a time where I can leave the weight of all my classes at the entrance of P100. I look forward to orchestra every day because I know that for 90 minutes, I can forget about all of the stresses accumulating in my mind. At least, I used to.

Being able to play in the Symphony orchestra—one of the top school orchestras in the state—is an amazing experience, but it also places a lot of pressure on the musicians to keep up that reputation. Each rehearsal and practice session seems like a chore rather than a time to fulfill our passions of playing music. While concerts used to be a thrilling experience, it seems that now us musicians feel a sense of relief after the last note is played—the weight of maintaining this school’s “superior” reputation lifted off of our shoulders.

This culture of being the best at everything isn’t only observed within the performing arts department. Basketball championships, Science Olympiad invitationals, DECA competitions—the stresses of preparing for events like these can be suffocating to those who take part in them. We are told that winning isn’t everything—that we should strive to be the best athlete, musician, or debater we can be—but in reality, we often only strive to do our best because we want to be the best, not because we are passionate about what we want to accomplish.

For every school, first place is the goal. At this school, however, we are so used to claiming the top spot in any competition or event that we enter, we have become greedy. This culture places an immense amount of pressure on students and we start to lose sight of why we started doing the things that makes our school great. We start to not care about the hobbies or activities we cared about in the past.

In order to bring back the excitement and love for any club, sport or activity, we must strive to reduce the culture of superiority that this school embraces. As competition season comes to a close, it’s important to remember that winning is great, but not if everyone isn’t truly interested in the activity itself.

The views in the column do not necessarily reflect the view of the HiLite staff. Reach Natalie Khamis at nkhamis@hilite.org.

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