Great Expectations

By Faire Davidson

“Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.”

This description of Prince Hamlet’s insanity, funnily enough, made me think of Harvard-Westlake.

Hamlet’s rants are terrifying, seem to have no rhyme or reason and confuse those around him.

However upon closer inspection, they make perfect sense, conveying his true dilemma (the possible murder of his father).

Harvard-Westlake is madness. It is mad to stay up until 4 a.m. studying for AP US History after a Monday night Chronicle layout. It is mad to drink three Red Bulls, because eventually they stop working.

It is mad to not go out all weekend because of one test on Monday, or try to do a lab, study for a test and finish a project all due the next day. Or to tell your friend you can’t hang out because you’re sick, even though you’re really just too tired to leave your house. It is mad to study until your eyes burn, sit at your computer screen until your English essay gets better, or to set your alarm for 4 a.m. even though you know you’ll keep pressing the snooze button until 6:30.

I have, however, done all those things. And I am a little crazy.

But there is method in it.

Last week I had a conversation with a fellow senior that consisted of him telling me attending HW was one of the biggest mistakes he ever made and me being thoroughly confused.

The basis of his argument was that the school pretends to care about the student’s workload and stress level, but continues to pile on the work, burning out the students and keeping them from reaching their full potential.

I wrote it off as this student being unwilling to reach the level the school desired and considered it a single, isolated incident.

A couple days after this conversation, I saw “F*** Harvard-Westlake” scrawled into a table in the quad. With two such bold condemnations in such a short amount of time, I was completely thrown off by the reputation the school seemed to obtain in my final weeks here.

In my first and last column for the Chronicle, I will defend my school.

As students here, were are fraught with difficulties from the first day of school. Its reputation had us shaking in our flip flops as 13 year-olds. In eighth grade we thought we had the system down.

By ninth, we thought we were overworked, but proud of it, proud that those children couldn’t understand what we were going through (probably because it wasn’t as difficult as we made it out to be).

But when we got to the Upper School, we began to learn what real hard work was and stayed up later, studied harder, and increased our expectations.

Not once did I blame my increasing workload on the school’s inability to understand what its students were going through. The school aims to challenge students and that will never change, but each student’s ability to rise to that challenge does.

It was me who couldn’t understand the material well enough, couldn’t stop procrastinating, couldn’t organize her schedule to accommodate my augmented responsibilities.

This a message to the underclassmen: As difficult as your times here are, no other school could foster the type of environment where students refuse to accept their own failure. Students rise to the expectations of their environment and in college you will accept nothing less than your best. Appreciate that gift.