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Lindsey Bergman

Staff Writer

A few weeks ago, my gym class watched a film showing the struggle students all over this country are going through. A few weeks ago, I realized I was not alone.

Exposing the reality of students all over this country, The Race to Nowhere was written by Maimone Attia and directed by Vicki Abeles and Jessica Congdon.

To be quite honest, I was skeptical at first. I didn’t think that a single film could bring so much attention to the topic. However, it was my teacher’s enthusiasm about it that kept my eyes open while watching this film that early Wednesday morning.

Sipping my coffee I had brought that day, probably my second or third (all before 7:30 A.M),  I heard a woman share a story about how her daughter was diagnosed with a stress-induced illness. Okay, I thought. This happens. Well-caffeinated, I heard how bad coffee really is and its negative effects on a young body and how you shouldn’t drink it and- whatever. It’s not like a few cups per day is going to kill me…

Then I heard about how a thirteen year old girl committed suicide because of a poor math grade. This should not have happened. Every once in a while you hear about that kid from that town who just couldn’t do it anymore. This is an everyday occurrence in towns all over America.

Why are school administrators waiting for someone to take their life before making a change?

While researching this topic on the website for The Jason Foundation, an online source of information about youth suicide, I learned that more teenagers die from suicide than cancer, heart disease, AIDS, influenza, strokes, birth defects, pneumonia, and chronic lung disease combined. I found this particular fact shocking and appalling. To see if stress is an issue at Holliston High School, I asked a few students some questions.

Madison Porter, a junior at Holliston High School, is working with Mr. D’Avanzo in the Race to Nowhere project. “It’s an important cause to be aware of because it’s an issue no one seems to talk about. With this project, we are trying to raise awareness of the stress put on kids in school.”  The campaign gains strength as more students, parents, and teachers get involved.

Knowing is half the battle. Doing something about it is the other half. This is not a matter to be solved overnight, but slowly changed to benefit future generations.

An online forum has been created by Joshua Staub, a junior at HHS, to bring ideas and opinions together. People can access it at  http://learnforachange.boards.net/.  So far, over fifty individuals have signed up and many have created posts that bring attention to the causes and effects of stress in school.

There is also a page on facebook for anyone who has a thought, question, or opinion. If you have an account, look up “I’m Holliston Happy”. There are already several stories from worried parents about their kids and their educations.

Slowly but surely, I have strong faith that Holliston will see better days ahead. We have great teachers and students, and the drive behind one teacher in particular is leading us in a successful direction.

Ever since day one of the second term, Glenn D’Avanzo has shown to my class his dedication and willingness to sacrifice anything and everything in order to make a change for the benefit of the students at HHS. Plain and simple, he cares.

To whomever is reading this: I highly recommend taking Mr. D’Avanzo’s Stress Management & Psych class. It counts as a wellness credit, but this is much more than just a gym class. I have learned more than I could say in a single article not only about myself, but how to change a generation. This is just the beginning.

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