Investigative journalist and best-selling author Alexandra Robbins visited Mercer Island High School on Monday, November 6th. She spoke to over 300 parents, staff and students, who braved the inclement weather and even chose the event over watching the Seahawks on Monday Night Football!!
MIHS Principal John Harrison opened the evening by reminding us that Mercer Island High School students, who take advantage of the myriad opportunities that are offered to them, have increasingly high expectations of themselves and put a lot of pressure on themselves. He acknowledged that "Mercer Island students face an incredible time management challenge as they prepare for life beyond high school. Our students take challenging college preparation course loads that include numerous Advanced Placement, college level, and honors course. Our students are involved in multiple student activities, athletics and performing arts. In the Mercer Island School District, high expectations apply to all areas of school life. When family time, non-school related activities, friends, religions activities, and part-time jobs are factored in, our students are incredibly time-challenged. This time management challenge can result in increased stress levels, sleep deprivation, compromise, and potentially lower levels of performance."
Both Principal Harrison and middle school Principal Sharon Gillaspie believe that, as a community, we can do a better job of managing these "competing interests." In doing so, Mr. Harrison says we can "support our students in continuing to achieve and accomplish in a way that is more conducive to continued success and healthy balance." Alexandra's visit here was intended to kick-off a community dialogue about this very important topic.
Ms. Robbins, only 12 years out of high school herself, described her return to her alma mater, Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland, during the year of her 10th reunion. She was stunned by the change in atmosphere since she attended the school. The stark contrast inspired her to follow nine Whitman students for three semesters and then travel the country, interviewing students, admission directors, high school administrators, etc., to develop a picture of today's high school experience and college preparation process. She shares what she experienced and learned in her latest book The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids, which is essentially an examination of today's culture to succeed and "how it has changed the high school experience so drastically in even ten years that it has startlingly altered what it means to be a student today."
To read the complete summary, Download AlexandraRobbinsMI.doc.rtf.
I also recommend reading the book! It is full of engaging stories and in-depth commentaries, and reads quickly. Not your typical non-fiction book!