David Hume Kennerly, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in photography and the official photographer to President Gerald Ford, Olympian Dan Browne, and professional baseball player Mitch Williams are examples of exceptional West Linn High School graduates.
Expectations for WLHS students are high when it comes to behavior, grades and graduation. As freshmen and beyond, students are told of past alumni who have accomplished much with the help of West Linn’s teachers and staff. Graduates of WLHS are expected to take what they learn at West Linn and go out and make something of themselves.
For students entering WLHS, the accomplishments of past graduates can be daunting. What can possibly be done that hasn’t already? Students face this question each year in a school where graduates go on to colleges such as Princeton University, Stanford University, Dartmouth College, West Point Academy, as well as many other high-end institutions across the United States and abroad.
This year’s’ incoming freshman were aware of the accomplishments of the past alumni before even entering high school. During middle school prep assemblies, supposedly helping students make the transition from middle school to high school, administrators rattled off past alumni accomplishments. Students stared wide-eyed at their new administrators wondering how they could possibly make it to the Ivy Leagues, when some weren’t even passing Spanish. No matter what kind of study habits students had individually, many were worried about surviving in a school that seemed more like an alien planet than a place to learn.
Past achievements of WLHS students are often talked about, but can be found daunting to the students themselves. What makes the people that found success at WLHS different from those that haven’t? Biologically they look the same as every other human being on the planet. Nobody can identify a Stanford-bound student by his or her looks.
People can, however, identify them by their fearlessness to meet the expectations set upon them by parents, teachers and even themselves. Many find it daunting to sign up for any of the sports or activities that West Linn has to offer its students. To put yourself out there into the unknown is never easy—many students would rather pass by an unknown opportunity rather than take the risk.
Expectations are a positive thing that make certain that people have something by which to gauge success by. Students should be proud of their school’s many accomplishments, and feel proud to be a part of the legacy. Students can’t let high expectations hold them back, students need to take advantage of expectations, using them as motivation. Otherwise they will be stuck frozen, looking at what others have accomplished.
Adults have to realize that every student learns differently. Each individual student has their own unique study habits, stresses, and areas that need to be improved on. Recognizing the effort of past students or children can help the students of today excel, berating with past achievements and expectation can have the opposite effect.
Teenagers have to have the courage to break free of the stereotypical mold, and find a niche that makes them happy. They have to be able to listen to the expectations of adults, and figure out how to set their own goals as individuals. Those who meet expectations only have to worry about the journey that propels them to reach their goals.