hroughout the years and generations, high school is commonly known to be four years of spending time with friends, football games, school dances and preparation for the impending adulthood. Not much has changed for current teens at Brainerd High School. Football games, friends and school still remain a priority for most BHS students.
But while some things seem to be carried over through graduating classes dating back years, there are some different challenges that face teens today, too.
■ Balancing act
Sports, Advanced Placement (AP) classes and jobs can make most people feel like they are on a unicycle with their hands full, trying to balance everything out. So how do kids ages 14-18 do it all? According to BHS senior Alli Kosobud, by taking one thing at a time.
“I’m in cross country and some different AP classes so trying to get all your homework done and trying to balance everything out is extremely stressful” said Kosobud, who is enrolled in AP Statistics, AP Calculus and AP Literature this fall term. “I try to be a good student and sometimes you just have to choose what you’re going to do and what you have time for.
“You just have to take it one thing at a time and get as much done in the time you have.”
Fellow senior Emily Bukowski recently started a part-time job at Target, something she said will definitely have her stretched thing between work and school work.
“Right now with my job, I have maybe an hour or hour and-a-half to do my homework and I really should have closer to three hours,” said Bukowski, who is also enrolled in AP classes this fall semester. “So when I think of how much I have to do and the little time I have to do it in most days, it really stresses me out.
“Add in to that and sometimes it’s hard to just find the time to sit down and study when I am always so busy with everything else. It gets hard.”
Both Bukowski and Kosobud, along with six other BHS students that took part in a round table discussion, agreed that each night their homework load can be about two to three hours.
So what’s more pressure? The big game or homework and good schooling?
“Both are a lot of pressure,” said Paul Augustinack, a sophomore who plays football and baseball. “If you have a big game Friday night, of course you are thinking of that and want to mentally and physically prepare yourself for that, but then at the same time if a big test is coming up on that same Friday, you are feeling pressure to do well on that, also.
“The main thing is time management.”
Augustinack said that going in early in the morning before school starts and talking with teachers helps along with trying to get stuff done right after a game or practice and making school work a priority over hanging out with friends.
But sophomore Delaney Kennedy said finding time to spend with family and friends should also be important.
“Even with everything else that you have to focus on like sports, school and maybe a job or something, I still think making time to spend doing something fun should be done,” said Kennedy, who is active in swimming, softball and golf. “You just have to know what needs to get done first and go from there.”
Stress can continue to pile on, especially as graduation nears for seniors.
The all-too-common question of “Where are you going next year?” or “What are your plans next?” for soon-to-be graduates only adds to the pressure.
“I try not to think about it because when I do, it stresses me out a bit,” said Kosobud, who added that she would like to go to a medium sized college that is not too far but not too close to home. “I think once I figure it out and where I want to go and then I will be more excited but I am just a little nervous right now.”
■ Spreading wings outside of Brainerd and coming back home
Wanting to leave home and get away from your parents is no new sentiment felt by 18 year olds across the nation. Searching for something new and trying to make their own footprint on a new world with opportunities and decisions now facing them is what every graduate deals with.
“Honestly I can’t wait to get out of here,” said Bukowski with a smile. “I mean it’s OK here, but I am a big city girl. I want to be in a huge city and I love big cities, so Los Angeles and Minneapolis all the opportunities that are there.”
With ambition to work in the music industry and eyeing Nashville or L.A. as destination locations following graduation, Bukowski said even after earning a degree she doesn’t see herself moving back to the area anytime soon.
But a place that will always be home is not as easy for everyone to leave, especially when the majority of your family is in the area and state.
“I would like to stay somewhere in Minnesota, maybe North Dakota, too,” said Sara Wennerstrand, a junior at BHS, when asked of her future plans. “I don’t think I’d want to go too far because this is where all my family is and I like Brainerd’s size.”
What many of the students described as the perfect combination of big and small city life, Brainerd is somewhere most would like to come back to at some point in life. But not too soon, said Kosobud.
“I don’t think that in my 20s I will come back (to Brainerd) but I do want to raise a family here,” said Kosobud. “It’s not too small of a town and there are plenty of stores and things to do.
“I feel job wise there is a lot of opportunity and it (Brainerd) has a lot to offer when you are older. But to spend your 20s here might be kind of hard, with no dance scene or things that might appeal to that age group.
“As you get older it offers more and more.”
■ Growing up gets real
As the teens float through their careless days of high school, eager for their next step to be an independent and do it “their way” for a change, Kosobud said the next step is more of anxiousness than of just excitement.
“High school is a time you always hear about growing up and even hear parents talk about being some of the best times of your life,” she said. “And as much as we (teens) get excited about the next step, we know at the same time it’s going to be a wakeup call.
“But I think Brainerd (High School) does a great job of preparing us for what comes next. And I think the majority of us are ready for that — no matter how nervous we may be about it.”