The SHS Plague Returns

It’s that time of the year again–and we aren’t talking about midyear exams. We are talking about cold and flu season, or as Scituate High School students have come to call it, the “SHS Plague.” Infecting students all over the school, cold and flu season seems to be targeting the senior class, in particular.  While some consider stuffy noses and achy throats the result of a common virus picked up during a student’s daily routine, others point to an underlying issue: senior stress.

More than any other class in the school, seniors face an extraordinary amount of stress and pressure. Between applying to colleges, playing sports, participating in clubs, and looking toward the fast-approaching next chapter of their lives, many seniors feel exhausted and overwhelmed.

For senior Emma Preuss, the pressures of both high school and college weighing on her mind has taken a toll on her physical health: “I’ve had a lot to do these past two weeks and a lot to do with college information coming out, [so] it’s been very stressful,” she said. Diagnosed with a case of over-exhaustion, Preuss spent three days at home trying to recover. “I even went to school sick when I shouldn’t have so I wouldn’t be behind,” she said.

“Every time my stress levels increase significantly, I seem to get sick, and with a lot of tests coming up, it’s increasing my stress,” said senior Mia Brewster-Smith, who also fell victim to the effects of the “plague.” Brewster-Smith suffered from flu-like symptoms for nearly two weeks; however, she only stayed home one day to recover. “I didn’t want to miss school because of my tests that were coming up and we would go over the stuff in class,” she said.

For a great deal of the senior class, it’s nearly an identical story of coming down with illness yet still persevering and coming to school, simply due to the stress outweighing their physical pain. But, is this how it has to be? Many seniors feel that teachers should be more aware of senior stress–especially considering the multiple roles and responsibilities seniors are trying to juggle. “Teachers should be more understanding for kids trying to catch up, because students also have to learn what the teacher is currently teaching, not just what they missed,” said Preuss. Brewster-Smith agrees, expressing similar frustrations.

With five months remaining in the school year, all students should be taking care of their bodies and their mental wellness. According to SHS school nurse Ellen Claflin, good sleep habits should be a primary goal. “Sleep is so important, and lack of sleep can cause lower immunity,” said Claflin. She even referenced several seemingly small activities that can make a big difference for many stressed out seniors: Deep breathing, taking a walk, unplugging technology, and laughing out loud all help students clear their minds, even just for a moment.