Stuart Hall and most college-preparatory high schools do a fantastic job of preparing students in academic subjects such as mathematics, science and history, yet many neglect basic health and wellness topics necessary to become the lively and robust men of courage and integrity we strive for.
Nutrition, a topic that used to be a staple in most high school curriculum, has now been pushed out of the majority of schools. At the same time, approximately 17 percent of children aged 2 through 19 are considered overweight, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. This number has more than doubled over the last three decades.
Obesity has both long-term and short-term health effects such as cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol/blood pressure. Along with the long-term issues, “a link seems to exist between the types of foods that students eat, their weight, and their performance in the classroom,” according to a 2013 study by John Carroll University.
Schools do tend to offer balanced lunch options, however simply giving students healthy foods does not prepare and provide them with the information necessary to successfully manage a balanced diet.
Sex-education is also not frequently taught at the high-school level. Although the rate of teen pregnancies has been steadily decreasing since 1991, half of all teens still feel uncomfortable talking with their parents about sex, according to a survey commissioned by Planned Parenthood. The United States has the highest rate of sexually transmitted disease infection in the industrialized world, with 1 in 4 teens contracting an STD annually, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
Stuart Hall continues to provide its students with top-of-the-line academics in a nurturing and compassionate environment, and dealing with constantly evolving schedules and the implementation of the IB Programme can be difficult, however the community can benefit from a more encompassing curriculum that encourages personal growth both inside and outside of the classroom.
Teenagers, going through one of the most hormonal stages of their lives, need to be provided with a safe space to discuss and learn about difficult topics such as sex and nutrition. Although uncomfortable, teens need to be provided with factual information to prevent problems in the future.
College-preparatory schools such as Stuart Hall need to integrate programs and classes that discuss normally ignored topics. It should be the job of educators to help students become ready for both the academic aspects of college and the more tangible hurdles they will encounter for the rest of their lives.