SOS: Competition to Collaboration

By Supriya Yelimeli

On Thursday, February 2, MSJ’s SOS (Stressed Out Students) hosted Competition to Collaboration, a student and parent function to discuss the everyday issues that MSJ students face. Vice Principal Zack Larsen started off the event by welcoming everyone and explaining the purpose of the event. SOS secretary Anjali Kanthilal then introduced guest speakers, Seniors Diya Roy and Trisha Srivastava, who spoke to the attendees about the different paths they took to achieve success. The two speakers discussed both the merits and disadvantages of the conventional system and allowed the parents and students to ask questions regarding the matter.

After this discussion SOS presented a video made by Senior Kevin Zhai. During the course of the video students answered questions about cheating, the “Mission Bubble”, and the intense focus on Math and Science classes. The many student voices helped the parents in the audience to better understand the environment of the school.

The main part of the event was an audience generated poll. The participants were asked to send a text message to a number and indicate whether they were a parent or student. There was also a student-teacher panel comprised of SOS president Tanya Raja, Stephanie Hom, Science Teacher Nathania Chaney-Aiello, and Assistant Principle Carli Kim.

The poll began with a question regarding a situation in which a student is faced with a decision to take a rumored “easy” AP class, or take a CP class that the student is passionate about. The audience was given five choices and when the results of the poll came in, many audience members were surprised to see that over 30 percent of students chose to take the AP class. Junior Tanya Raja said, “Although a lot of the students here pretend to be above the whole Mission mentality, most of them would take an AP over a CP class when given the chance.” The audience and panel discussed the response and continued the event with two more questions concerning SAT scores and cheating.

Many times the responses were unexpected and led to discussions between the audience and panel. A student from Irvington also explained how MSJ wasn’t the only high school with a fiercely competitive environment. The poll question of cheating created much discussion because the highest response among students was that they felt powerless when others cheated and received better grades. The parents sought to understand the reasoning behind this and gave constructive advice to deal with these problems.

Through this event, SOS attempted to reduce the stress experienced by MSJ students and create more trust and communication between parents and children. Sophomore Anjali Kanthilal summed up the event by saying, “We had a really big turnout and the event went really well this year. There was also a lot of communication between the audience and the panel and I think everyone left with better understanding of all the topics we discussed.”

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