Students’ worth goes beyond the horizons of a grade


Photo by Katherine Phelps ’25

Two students receive their grades as one is disappointed about a perfectly good grade, the other beams in delight.

In high school, there’s always the feeling of wanting to do your best. Whether that be with sports, theater or school work, students are constantly striving to be the best version of themselves, especially at Staples. 

Before I walked into Staples on the first day of freshman year, I already knew that the environment was intense because of my older siblings. I would hear them awake at one in the morning and I remember thinking to myself, “I hope that’s not me.”

Well, six years later, it is. 

Kids at Staples feel pressure to always be the best, however, they often feel their best is not good enough. Maybe this is because Staples is ranked the fifth best public school in the state as of 2022. Or, maybe because students think that having a “B” on their report card means they’ll never be successful. 

The amount of times I’ve been handed a test back and hear the person next to me say, “I failed.” Like most people, I assume they literally got an F. However, when they finish the sentence with, “I got a B+.” The feeling of disgust stabs at me as I turn over the B+ that I was originally proud of. 

Though part of me wants to scream in their face that having a grade in the “B” range is considered a good thing, they don’t know any better. We’re trapped in what I like to call, “the Westport bubble.” If you go to other schools across the country, and even in the state of Connecticut, many people would be thrilled to receive that grade. However, Staples has created unrealistic standards for what it means to be smart or receive a good grade.

It’s exhausting to constantly hear people stressing over their 3.8 GPA and their B+ in English honors. The pride of a good grade washes away instantly as you realize that by Westport standards, your A- is considered average.

What is TRULY wrong is that students don’t realize that there are bigger problems in the world than not getting an A+ on your chemistry test.

— Katherine Phelps

But stress and school seem to go hand and hand. According to a study done by Stanford University’s Challenge Success program, 76% of students reported that they always or often worry about the possibility of not doing well in school. But if you ask me, I feel that number is higher at Staples. 

Once, I was sitting in my Spanish class when the kid next to me pulled up his grades. All I saw was the letter “A.” I looked at him and said, “Woah, how do you have all A’s?” 

He then turned to me and said, “No, I don’t; I have an A- in English.” 

I fought so hard to have my eyeballs not roll back into my head. I thought about my B in Algebra 2A. If he thought his A- bad, then what did this mean? Was I stupid because I had a B in math? No. What was stupid was the feeling that I wasn’t good enough. 

I know I’m a hard worker, yet there are times where I’ll spend hours studying for a test and I won’t receive the grade I hoped for. I just think to myself that I can do better  next time, and there’s nothing wrong with that. What is TRULY wrong is that students don’t realize that there are bigger problems in the world than not getting an A+ on your chemistry test. 

I hope that as I continue to grow as a person and as a student, I keep my same beliefs that having a B in a class is not going to determine if my parents love me, if my friends like my personality or if I’m a better person. But, I think it would be a good idea for other students to adopt this way of thinking and to create a healthier school environment. An A doesn’t stand for amazing, and a B doesn’t stand for bad. They’re just letters on a piece of paper.