California High School Student Newspaper Condemns ‘Toxic,’ ‘Goal-Oriented’ Mindset

High school students take the philosophy exam, the first test session of the 2015 baccalaureate (high school graduation exam) on June 17, 2015 in Paris. Some 684,734 candidates registered for the exam to be held until June 24, 2015 in 4,200 examination centres. AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAU / AFP …
MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images

The editors-in-chief of the student newspaper at Palo Alto High School in California have recently announced their plan to censor a “highly anticipated” annual map displaying the colleges that the school’s recent graduates will be attending. The student editors, who have also railed against a “goal-oriented student mindset” claim that the map “contributes to the toxic, comparison-driven culture” at the high school.

“Though its intended purpose was to celebrate the post-graduation plans of every senior, the reality is the map contributes to the toxic, comparison-driven culture at Paly,” states a recent note by the Campanile regarding the student newspaper’s highly anticipated “Post-Paly Plans Map.”

The memo goes on to suggest that the map “erodes one’s sense of value” and can lead to students “feeling judged, embarrassed or underrepresented” if they are to choose an alternative path to success.

“This worldview sets the bar for achievement extremely high and punishes anyone who falls short,” insists the student newspaper, adding that in place of the map, the student newspaper would instead “publish a series of quotes portraying Paly community members’ perspectives on the culture at our school and alternative post-graduation paths.”

“It’s extremely toxic. It’s detrimental to a person’s health, mental health and it hurts not only themselves, but others around them,” said Ingrid Paixao, class of 2019.

“The moment I said I was going to England everyone assumed I was going to Oxford or Cambridge,” added fellow classmate Phoebe Crabb, “Within less than a second they would ask me if I was going there, and then when I would tell them no it kind of just made it feel like my college wasn’t really as prestigious, and it wasn’t really as top as Oxford or Cambridge.”

“I think kids feel embarrassed when they say they are going to community college,” noted social studies teacher Deborah Whitson.

This is not the first time the student newspaper railed against the supposed “toxic” and “competitive” culture at the high school. In April, the Campanile published a “letter from the editors-in-chief” condemning the school’s alleged “cut-throat” nature, as well as the “goal-oriented student mindset” of graduates at Palo Alto.

“Throughout our time at Paly, we’ve witnessed — and, admittedly, sometimes contributed to — the ugliest parts of this culture,” states the letter, describing the school’s  culture as “a goal-oriented student mindset” — a bizarre statement, given that students who decide to take on vocational training can also be goal-oriented.

“As seniors, we have emerged from the dark cloud of the college admissions process and have witnessed firsthand the way that it erodes one’s sense of value and place,” affirm the student editors.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, on Parler at @alana, and on Instagram.

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