Recently, the staff of my school paper released the winter issue of our quarterly OLMANAC newspaper. One of the articles tackled an important issue—homework. As much as I love my school, the amount of homework most of us students get is insane, and it needed to be publicly addressed (if you consider a school newspaper to be “public,” that is).
I got the honor of writing it—which was an awesome experience. Not only did I particularly enjoy compiling information, student and teacher quotes, and survey results into one ginormous article, but I was (and still am) very passionate about the cause for which I was writing for.
At first—and I’ll admit this—I felt kind of nervous about writing this article, fearing that administration would hate me or something. (I still question why I felt this way, taking into account the gentle, kind nature of the people in administration.) But, at the same time, I felt empowered. I had never really voiced my opinions on anything at such a public level before; usually my opinions come in the form of heated rants that I ramble on about to my friends at the lunch table.
As I was writing the article, this one song really stood out in my mind. It’s called “Banner,” and it’s by a Canadian electro pop artist named LIGHTS. (I don't think anyone reading this will have heard of her before.) The part that especially stuck out to me was the chorus:
“Lift it up like a banner. Hold it up over me. If this war is never-ending, I’ll take this love down with me.”
LIGHTS said in the behind-the-scenes video for the song's music video that the song is “about love, essentially.” However, I seem to have found a deeper meaning in it. Although this isn’t the interpretation that the artist intended (or perhaps it could be), I believe that the song is saying that people should not be afraid to stand up for their beliefs.
So, back to how this relates to the OLMANAC article. “Banner” really motivated me to write this article. The message woven throughout the lyrics really spoke to me and convinced me that I should not fear expressing my thoughts on this issue.
Not only that, but the song got me to thinking about how none of us (the students) were really willing to speak up against all of the homework most of us get. I guess this was for several varying reasons; perhaps it was because students were afraid to bring up the topic, or because students were afraid that their complaints would not be heard.
As I was working on the homework article—and even before the inception of the article’s concept came about—the issue steadily began to surface, probably as the result of my English teacher’s involvement with the issue. She brought it up to us after seeing the documentary The Road to Nowhere, which is about the homework problem on a nationwide level.
After that, students brought the issue up to Student Council, who brought it up to administration. Eventually, administration asked interested students to track the amount of time spent on daily activities, including homework and extra curriculars, in an attempt to confirm the existence of the homework issue and try to develop solutions for it. I haven’t gotten much feedback on my article yet, but I hope that it helps with the issue as well.
So, fellow reader, if you’re a high school student with a concern over a problem at your school, don’t be afraid to lift up your banner and speak up (in a respectful way, that is). And even if you’re not a student, reader, then don’t be afraid to modestly propose your concerns, ideas, etc.. For all you know, your banner could make a huge difference.
Catherine Litvaitis is a Wantagh resident and junior at Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Syosset.