Re-vamp our summer

Summer, as we know it, is dead. I can’t say they didn’t warn us. But there it is, clear as a bright July afternoon.

It wasn’t always this way. As April turned into May turned into June in earlier years, we would grow increasingly giddy at the prospect of a worry-free summer. No more classes, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks, right? Well, those days are long gone.

As we progress on our slow, laborious march through a Harvard-Westlake education, the arrival of summer vacation becomes less of a welcome occurrence on the horizon and more of a necessary respite from the heavy stress of the year and, fresher still, finals. More of a break to stave off insanity than one to reward our diligence throughout the year.

What only exacerbates the general lack of frivolity associated with a Harvard-Westlake summer is the strategic use of such summers. Not one fellow incoming junior that I have talked to about their break has said something along the lines of, “Oh, I pretty much just slept, ate, and hung out with my friends all summer.” If they didn’t have a paying job, they had an internship. Or were practicing a sport. Or were preparing for the SAT. Or were taking college courses. Almost every one of which included a resume-packing motive.

Now, this is not a pure indictment or lamentation of the passing of the traditional “fun” summer break. Summer jobs have been a part of the nostalgic American upbringing. As Lester Burnham, the protagonist in the movie “American Beauty” once longingly reminisced to a teenager, “When I was your age, I flipped burgers all summer just to be able to buy an eight-track… I had my whole life ahead of me.”

There is absolutely something to be said for having a summer job. A reliance on one’s own two hands rather than Father’s Visa card for spending money is one that can be developed through such a job. But the kind of jobs we get are a bit much for high school students. The stress in some of our summers is enough to rival even the most packed school day.

Of course, high school is just preparing us for “adulthood,” but let’s take our friend Lester Burnham’s advice. High school is a taxing time both academically and socially, but we’re not that far removed from our younger days, when summer was a time to take it down a notch and just relax. A summer job that involves the mindless labor of, say, a fast food joint allows for a mental break and a summer that isn’t preparing us for careers. High school is tough, so why can’t we just take a few months out of the year to stop and just smell the hamburgers?