A SLICE OF SHALHEAVEN: Don’t let May steal your soul

By Katie Feld, Staff Columnist

The month of May has graced us with her presence once again. Wait, scratch that…what I really meant was that the month of May has bashed down the doors, tumbled across the room and fallen abruptly into our laps. I do not recall inviting her in and May deserves nothing near a warm, open-armed welcome.

If I haven’t made myself clear already, allow me to be painfully blunt. I hate May. Filled with AP exams, post-spring-break work loads, and the stress of raising grades before the end of the year, May really doesn’t have many pleasant things to offer.

AP exams are brutal. They take up so much time and absorb so much energy. Many feel pressure to get a perfect score. To junior Natalie Kessler, the AP tests “cause unnecessary stress,” and she believes that “the entire AP system should be eradicated from Shalhevet’s curriculum.”

I can’t say I disagree. An entire AP course is centered around the final AP exam. This adds so much pressure to do well on it, because there is a mindset that this test is what we’ve been working towards. Another junior, Briana Marshak, explains why she is stressing out over her AP Psychology exam, confessing: “I know I’m gonna procrastinate but I need to do well.  I need a perfect score if I have any shot of getting into my choice college.” She explains her thinking this way: “AP exams are important because most colleges really want their students to have taken AP’s in high school and receive good grades on the exams.”

Whether our perception of the exam’s importance bears any truth is almost beside the point.  As long as we make these exams into the be-all and end-all of life, they are the prime generator of May student stress.  It’s the perfect storm of perception becoming reality.

Aside from stressing over the AP exams, the month after Pesach seems to be overloaded with homework, tests and quizzes. Teachers seem to lose their perspective as they realize they aren’t quite where they hoped they would be at this point in the year. Junior Elie Hess expresses a popular student sentiment: “Summer is so close I can almost taste it – the school year just needs to end already.”

Personally, I struggle to find the will-power to push through. I’m always so nervous and simultaneously drained. This really is the final opportunity to raise grades before the end of the year.  For these last assignments, every quiz, homework, test and project matters more than ever. The combination of getting through all of the work while scratching for every extra point is enough to drive a student crazy!

But before we lose all perspective, it is worth remembering what else occurs in May, namely the “yoms.”  As we sweat the small stuff, the Jewish calendar gives us a reminder of Yom HaShoah, the day we remember the horrors of the Holocaust and the destruction of European Jewry.  And Yom HaZikaron, the day we pay our respect to those Israelis who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our people’s security.  And finally, Yom Ha’atzmaut, where we celebrate and reflect upon that which is truly important.

This May, don’t let the APs take your soul.  When you feel yourself slipping into self-absorbed insanity or you suddenly find yourself immersed in academic nonsense, take time to give yourself a quick reality check and remind yourself of what is truly important.