A Little Schooling For Massachusetts.

When you hear the word “Boston,” what comes to mind? The Red Sox? A post-colonial hotspot? How about this, when I say “schools in Boston,” now what do you think? If you thought of colleges and universities, you’re on the right track. Boston is not only the capital of Massachusetts, but also the college capital of the United States. Recently, Boston.com posted its list of the fifteen best schools—from elementary, to middle school, and to high school—in the beloved Bay State. My alma mater, Boston Latin School, came in second; Boston Latin Academy, our academic arch-nemesis, second; and Cambridge Rindge and Latin School rounds out the top three. All fifteen schools were chosen because of their growth in MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) Math scores, growth in MCAS ELA (English Language Academy) scores, graduation rates, and percentage of graduates who embark on four-year colleges. Nowhere on this list, however, are listed the schools’ guidance credentials. This is how I feel about that:

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These schools are ranked based on statistics, on numbers. And in the talk and mumbo-jumbo of test scores, students’ personal health is factored out. How does this all tie into Boston being the college capital of the United States? Simple. While the objective of every level of formal education is to create aware, attentive, and able students, college is the most fundamental and most visible institution with such a goal. High school is the steppingstone to college, and if these secondary education institutions are not placing the utmost importance, and regarding as the utmost reflective sign/quality, their students’ health and happiness, then some students’ college careers seem a bit foggy. Let me just say that I am not discounting things such as SAT scores, grades, and extracurriculars as unimportant when it comes to one’s future as well as collegiate career. Heck, I went to Boston Latin School, one of the most respected secondary education institutions in the state and country. One thing that i learned at Latin, as well as from pure, everyday-life observations, is that what one inputs, one receives in profit. A high SAT score often looks favorably upon one’s chance of admission. Another thing that I learned at Latin, as well as from pure, everyday-life observations, is that the statistical aspect is one part; you are more than the sum of your parts.”The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” Aristotle is attributed as having said. The external alone does not a person make. One’s emotional, psychological well-being must be somewhat sound for success in just about every arena of life. You can have a perfect score–a 2400–on the SATs. You could have gotten A-minus’ and A-plus’ in just about every class. You can have the best extracurricular transcript and have legacy at Harvard, Princeton, and Brown. You can gain admission into any of the fine aforementioned institutions; take your pick, and graduate summa or maxima cum laude (I studied Latin after all. I had to put some Latin into my post). You can gain a high-paying job. What I’m saying is that, on the surface, your life can be perfect, the envy of every person who lays eyes on you. On the outside, everything can be going for you, but as stated in my beloved Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, “All that glisters is not gold…Gilded tombs [may] worms enfold” (II.vii.69-73). You might have everything going for you on the outside, but internally, you could be suffering. You can be a Pandora’s box: beautiful, or in this case, successful and accomplished, on the outside, yet carrying multiple afflictions within. I feel that schools should start nurturing and concentrating more on students’ psychological and emotional state. Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not charging Boston Latin and all other schools with negligence towards their students’ psychological well-being. On the contrary, I commend my alma mater for having an able, accomplished, and amicable guidance and nursing staff. The teachers, as well, paid attention to their students’ full well-being. So, why aren’t these qualities being lauded? Why aren’t these considered among the shining attributes of an educational institution? I know that it is often in school, because of school that students learn about reading, writing, analysis, arithmetic history, foreign languages, etc. (et cetera, Latin for “and other things.” See? You taught me well, B.L.S.) However, school is also where many friendships are fostered, where many characters begin to develop. Like it or not, school is not just where are brains are molded, but also where we start to come into our own. I entered Boston Latin School in September 2007 as a terrified, borderline anorexic, and insecure nerd. Prior to B.L.S., I had attended the same Catholic school from age five to age thirteen, from kindergarten to eighth grade. Now, I was entering a secular, prestigious, and, most importantly, new school. It was during my four years at Latin that I developed a taste for Latin, found a love for Spanish, and called a truce with arithmetic. Boston Latin is also where I let go of some of my insecurities and just began to live. Who was I? I was not exactly sure. I was not sure of which college I wanted to attend, on which career path I hoped toe eventually embark, or even which type of man I wanted to date—the jock, the music geek, the student body president, someone who just doesn’t “do” social labels at all. All was unknown to me. However, what I did know that I was not going to be anyone’s punching bag; I gained comfort in front of people, whether in an academic setting or not; and, most importantly, I learned how to articulate myself. Currently a junior in college, I’ve improved, honed these skills and qualities tremendously. I owe this all to Boston Latin, and the people in it. So, how do we measure students’ psychological status in school? I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure that it is not something that can be translated into qualitative date. However, I do know that one’s state of mind is of the utmost importance in any setting, and even complements the qualitative experience that one has. A dermatologist with a medical degree from Harvard, a smile on her face, and a warm, bubbly personality? Book me an appointment. I’ve got too many smile lines as it is (I’m kidding. I’m swimming in the fountain of youth at twenty years old). C’mon, guys. We’re Boston, the city of champions, and champions become winners internally before they manifest that energy into trophies, awards, and public recognition. This is why I believe that students’ happiness and psychological states should be considering when assessing the skills of an institution. Boston Latin School does this, and that is why sumus primĪ, why we are first. The Boston.com post states that this list is all part of its “Dreamschool project.”  Well, part of the dream is in the doing, and another part is in the feeling and believing. We Massachusetts students do” a lot, but we feel a lot, too.

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