Ask Alice: Next Steps for Semester II

Tess Farr '22, Ask Alice Editor and Copy Editor

We marked the end of our first semester in this odd new reality with the release of report cards last Monday. With snow, rain, and the upcoming “one year since quarantine began” milestone, Semester II can look a little bleak. So, how can you do and feel your best over this next interim? 

Reflecting on Semester I:

The half-way mark during the school year is always accompanied by the release of report cards. Even though it doesn’t quite make sense, it can be easy to put too much weight on your numerical grades. Report card releases can be stressful for everybody, regardless of how you do in your classes. It’s important to remember that now that grades are out, there isn’t much you can do to change your past performance. Focus instead on what comes next: if you got a 75% in English, make a goal of getting, say, an 80% next interim. Make a plan to go to extra help, or set aside an extra hour on weekends to review. Try to have a reasonable goal and an achievable plan: accomplishing smaller goals feels so much better than failing a much larger task. It’s also really important to remember that you have many opportunities for help academically. From going to teachers during resource to making a study group to getting a tutor, working with other people can motivate you to do better and also foster a sense of community. Though it sounds very corny, remember that grades are not the be-all and end-all of school, even though they may seem like it in the moment. 

How To Move On In Semester II:

Though grey skies, slush, and 7℉ weather aren’t ideal at all, Semester II will happen whether we like it or not. After a full five months of school, you can feel a little burnt out (check out Neha’s great article on burnout) or just uninspired. Taking care of your mental health and physical wellbeing is necessary for making your way through these next few months and for staying happy while doing so. For me, settling into a routine really helps. Whether it’s working out and playing piano for the same amount of time each day or trying to watch a movie every Friday night, a routine helps me feel some sense of achievement at the end of the day. It’s also really important to talk to your friends – just a quick FaceTime will make you feel a lot better than lying around and doing nothing. If you’re feeling tired and stressed, your friends probably are, too. Talking out your problems or just letting a friend vent is to prevent internalizing negative emotions and to strengthen your communication with friends.

In her Habits of Mind presentation on stress, LifeCompass Institute Associate Director Mrs. Kris addressed how to deal with pressure and worry in a healthy manner. Two of the biggest takeaways that I had from her talk were keeping your emotions in perspective and making time to relax and be happy. Bad days and good days will happen to everybody, and it’s important to remember that emotions are normal – there’s no need to feel bad about feeling bad. Because it is easy to think about all of the stress in your life, Mrs. Kris emphasized finding downtime – enjoying yourself either with others or on your own. She said: “We’re really wired to connect with other people.” Especially during periods of quarantine and isolation, interacting with friends and family can be a huge stress reliever and fun in and of itself. Watching a movie every weekend with siblings or FaceTiming a friend twice a week are both great examples of ways to simultaneously decompress and enjoy being around others.

With the approach of time off over February break, Montrose starts to settle into Semester II. With the creation and rollout of vaccines, we can hope for an environment that allows us to be safely together as “normally” as we can. In order to do your best in school and at home in the meantime, reflect on your grades reasonably, try to create a routine, talk to your friends, and take care of yourself!

Tess Farr ‘22, Ask Alice Editor & Copy Editor

22tfarr@montroseschool.org