Do not judge me

By Jean Park

Last week, my history class was learning about President Thomas Jefferson. Although he is now glorified and featured on those rare $2 bills, Jefferson actually represented the epitome of hypocrisy and self-contradiction. An Anti-Federalist, Jefferson strongly opposed many of Alexander Hamilton’s programs, but during his presidency, his actions were not always in line with his beliefs.

In an attempt to trace Jefferson’s thought process, history teacher Dror Yaron pointed out that Jefferson’s original beliefs were contorted by the constraints of his presidency. Yaron drew a parallel to the current president, asking if anyone had read the last issue of Newsweek. The editorial tells the story of Jefferson in Barack Obama’s shoes.

“The president promised to tackle the big stuff, swiftly, decisively, and in a fashion about which he was unequivocal, and voters took him at his word a year ago…Campaigns are bad crucibles in which to forge the future,” journalist Anna Quindlen wrote.

I apologize for the history reference, especially to the junior class, as many classes have already painstakingly reviewed “The Age of Jefferson” in class, but I mention it because I have noticed this pattern in another place – high school.

If you think about it, the original purpose of our education was to better ourselves, not just as students, but as people. We were once encouraged to pursue anything, but that once-panoramic view of our potential is slowly becoming narrower and narrower as we experience high school.

Like Jefferson, we have constraints, the biggest being grades. I notice many students, including myself, have begun to care more about how others judge us than how we judge ourselves. Undoubtedly, grades are essential to our transition to life after high school, but in the end, the grade only defines the student, not the human being.

I’ve always wanted the perfect high school experience. But my constraint would indeed be those very letter grades that many students share dread in. As a little kid, soccer was my life. I told myself that I would always play, but I’ve failed to keep that promise. This is something I regret, but will also learn from.

What I’m trying to get at is that despite the restrictions that are already placed on students, the important thing is to be satisfied with what we do.

I’m always told to contribute to the community when I do things “just for college.” It makes sense to me now and I know that doing things just to juice up my resume when I didn’t take away anything from it means nothing.