Opinion: Let the past inform present challenges

A common narrative that is spread around Marshall’s community is that in the past few years big changes have been made, most seemingly negative. In my time here I’ve definitely been disgruntled and infuriated with many of the changes—and lack of changes—that have gone on during my time here. My older sister graduated in 2019. In speaking with her I realized some of these changes aren’t as recent as we might believe.

A major point my sister brought up was the competitiveness of students at the time she went to Marshall. When I brought up the toxic competitive nature that students often have with each other and that teachers often foster within their classroom, my sister was shocked. She said she remembered students being studious but not being so competitive that they are willing to betray and openly compete with friends at the expense of their relationships.

For me, it can sometimes seem that not all my friends have my best interests in mind academically, simply because we take the same classes or are in the same extracurriculars. Marshall’s administration prides itself on the increased academic excellence of their students, but is this excellence due to better teaching, or to an ongoing trend of students being pitted against each other?

We also spoke about how much class times have changed and what effect it may have on students post-graduation. One of the many changes made to classes is that they went from 90 minutes to 75. I loved this change. I’m a firm believer that school is too long and that it’s extremely hard for me to focus for an hour and a half per class, so this change was a big win for me. My sister, on the other hand, was worried about what effect it may have on students once they get to college and for teachers.

She made the point that for students who might plan on attending college, there are a variety of classes that have different durations. Long high school classes with direct and indirect instruction, for her, prepared her for college. She also brought up the issue of teachers not being able to teach all the needed curriculum in the shortened time setting. Both of us have experienced teachers not being able complete teaching in the previous hour and a half.

Though these changes may seem small or too recent to have a large impact, students continue to be affected. Without the stories and experiences of Marshall alumni it can be hard to fully track the origin of changes that began ages ago. Additionally, it’s important to acknowledge that some changes made in hopes of improving the school have done the opposite.

With this knowledge, I hope we can take the positive parts of Marshall’s past and then pair them with the positive changes the school has made in recent years, in order to improve as one student body.