Editor: In response to the article “Mental Health Providers Pitch Countywide Teen Suicide Prevention Programs,” I believe this new programming is fantastic and in my opinion long overdue.
One issue I have with the system as a whole is the hard-core push for students to achieve. Yes, we want our children to be successful but at what cost? I feel that “success” is defined differently for each individual.
My high school junior has been deeply affected by the pressure to compete academically. High School in Loudoun County seems to be all about AP classes, high GPAs and sports or other extracurricular activities—all for the ultimate goal of getting into a “good” college. While a healthy dose of competition can be invigorating, too much can send a sensitive teen down a very scary rabbit hole of self-doubt.
In our case, when our son chose not to work toward an advanced diploma, we were still hit with a strong push for him to take more AP classes. To what end? A stressed-out kid with a serious complex about his overall value?
Once upon a time, a C meant average and a B meant above average. Straight A’s and a high GPA are a great approach for some students but not all. I feel strongly that the system needs to be more sensitive to this issue and the diversity of our student population. There is no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ education.
I would ultimately like to see the system been more able to address the needs of individual kids. I know this is no small task given funding, resources and a myriad of other issues. It would need to be a process but I do feel strongly that it’s one that needs to be examined.
This year my son is attending Monroe Technology part time. As the school year is still just beginning we have yet to see if this will be a good fit for him. I will say that while I love the atmosphere at Monroe there is still a very strong push to achieve and to be competitive. I sincerely hope that my creative, well spoken, intelligent and yes, highly imperfect (!) child can find a way to thrive in the Loudoun County public school system without having to always be the “best” and certainly not at the cost of his mental health and self-esteem.
Last but not least, I want to say that our son’s team at his homeschool have been terrifically supportive helping him find his path and for that we are grateful.
Deborah Morbeto, Leesburg