A Downward Spiral


I was recently asked to write a second article for a local newspaper highlighting positive aspects of my high school (“Music Program Is One Of Best Kept Secrets”). Once I was able to start it, the article came easily. I just had to find the right topic. However, I had unwittingly alluded to the fact that there weren’t as many pros to the school as some people might think. The editor caught on to this, and through a series of phone calls and emails, convinced me to weave more of this concept into the article. I managed to do just that, and what I wrote really got me thinking.

I mentioned that I had an excellent transition and introduction to high school through band camp, and I truly believe that the week spent practically living together made the experience less overwhelming. However, I think there was more to it than just how it happened. The ‘who’ behind it certainly played a role in it as well.

Just four years ago, the students of Bedford High School were friendly, welcoming, and willing to lend a hand. Those that I came into contact with were intelligent, ambitious, and hard working, and I came into contact with quite a few. It probably didn’t hurt that I was friends with a lot of upperclassmen through my best friend and her older sister. However, I noticed that my entire freshman class had made connections and was fitting in quite well. It was quite a successful year all around.

Now, as I look around at my senior classmates and the incoming and rising classes, there is a remarkable difference. Work ethic seems to have disappeared, respect is nonexistent, and the amiable and spirited atmosphere that once filled the school has left the building. Students that at one point were top in the school, highly responsible, and highly respected have become apathetic and unreliable. The drive and ambition that I admired so much in the upperclassmen of my freshman year seems to have gotten lost in translation. And there’s no reason to talk about school spirit and pride because it’s a fairytale anymore. What happened?

Maybe it’s the relentless testing students are put through that has caused the decline in drive. The Ohio Graduation Test seems to be the current basis for our curriculum, which means we are learning how to test instead of how to learn. And since it’s so easy only the best students seem to be able to pass it, there are more practices and exercises and workshops for it than ever. Gotta keep those test scores up. Who cares what happens after you pass them? They’ve taken top priority, and it’s rather draining. I still have to hear about it, and I passed them with flying colors the first time my sophomore year. They’ve finally broken us.

The lack of spirit could be due to the fact that we have such a dismal football record. Bedford is a football town, so the success of our basketball teams, or our championship girls’ softball team, makes very little impact. It’s all about the football team. The team that has won roughly eleven out of forty games in the past four years. That’s inspiring… I love football, and I cheer my heart out as I sit in the band bleachers behind the end zone. But a person can only be positive for so long when they have to mark an ‘L’ on the sheet week after week.

As for the disrespect and wrecked work ethic, that comes straight from the student body. Through a combination of environment (meaning former; we have a large number of students that have moved into the district from Cleveland and other suburbs over the past four years) and upbringing, a certain mentality has developed throughout the population. In students’ eyes, adults are merely figure heads, not persons with authority that need to be headed and respected. And student officers and leaders? Forget about it. They’re less than dirt. Being in a class or group doesn’t mean actually doing the work, but rather counting on other people to do it. Someone else will cover for you, sing loud enough to cover your sour notes and missed lyrics, share a paper with you so you can turn it in with a slight edit here or there. That’s how things work.

Though programs and policies are being created in an attempt to reward positive actions, there are so many students that have hopped aboard this negligent train of thought that they’re overshadowing the few that still give one hundred percent, that still strive for excellence, not mediocrity. Even the organizations and courses that cater to outstanding students have been infiltrated by indolence and flippancy. Excellence is quickly spiraling into oblivion.

What more can really be done to reverse this deterioration? Is there some way to revive the dying art of respect and rebuild the academic community? I’ve always been told that we, the students, are the future. If this is the case, the future of Bedford High School looks very dim.

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