Norah Kanukolanu, '23
When you hear Equity Board, you probably think of incessant emails, assemblies, and Diversity Forum—likely, none of which excite you. However, I can promise you, Equity Board is so much more than that. I’ve been my grade’s representative for the past 2 years, a position which I can easily say has been a defining part of my NCS experience. My freshman year, I ran for the position, totally oblivious of the commitment required. Within the first few weeks, the representatives were already planning Diversity Forum and drafting a proposal to the NCS administration. This proposal is one of the main reasons I love the board so much. It was a request for speakers to avoid using gendered terms when addressing the student body, and it was so vital and necessary that it made me feel the same way.
This year’s theme for Diversity Forum is mental health, a focus that was announced at NCS’ assembly this week. Mental health awareness is such an important aspect to consider when thinking about how schools are run. Mental health affects the way people think, feel, and act, and quite honestly schools nationwide are failing at helping students manage stress. In recent studies done by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, 75% of American high schoolers described themselves as “often or always feeling stressed” by schoolwork. Private institutions such as NCS and STA have the rare ability to help manage the chronic stress students face—for example, the “no more than 2 tests per day” rule or the relaxed communication between teachers and students. However, according to the AP curriculum guidelines, students can have one hour of work per class, thus giving NCS students a total of 5-6 hours of homework daily, in addition to sports and extracurricular activities.
When do students have time to process coming out of a pandemic, or reflect on the minutia of day-to-day life? In reality, they don’t. There isn’t enough time to spare in 24 hours to value mental wellbeing, so students place their sanities on the back burner while school and sports take up all of their energy. I know I do this, and as a junior this year it has been so difficult to juggle school, rowing, SAT prep, and my social life. I can honestly say that I have slowly started to give up on sleep in order to finish everything assigned, a coping mechanism that is neither healthy nor sustainable. Students need 7-8 hours of sleep, nutritious food, and hydration. These are all indisputable facts and factors which, if ignored, will detract from mental wellbeing and capacity to succeed. This year, Equity Board aims to engage the Close in a yearlong initiative to prioritize mental health, for the benefit of our students and the community. We aim to not just reduce stress, but also to acknowledge it. We are high schoolers coming out of an unprecedented and historic pandemic—you are allowed to take a moment to breathe and process that.