Annabelle Spicer, junior: 85,690 minutes remaining

Lauren Hoogeveen, story editor

“You all should start looking at colleges, we really need to start working on getting ready for that.”

Annabelle Spicer, now a junior, and the rest of her eighth grade Intro to Engineering and Design class stared blankly back at their teacher, Mr. Matthew Backs. Glancing around at students’ worried faces and hearing others say “I started SAT prep in seventh grade, I’ll be fine,” she started to panic.

“I was like, hey man, I’m thirteen,” Annabelle said. “I don’t know what I’m doing. I wasn’t even thinking about college, I didn’t even know what I wanted to do yet.”

Making her way into high school, her options seemed as if they were already narrowed down. The excitement Annabelle felt about the various art classes in sixth grade diminished as those career paths became seemingly discouraged. Surrounded by her peers who had long ago decided to follow in their doctor parents’ footsteps, she felt as if STEM was the only option. To Annabelle, the priorities of Munster schools had been apparent since budget cuts during her time at Elliott Elementary—the arts had less value. For a while, she felt her passion for art was always drowned out by people encouraging more “reliable” majors.

“It felt like just because I’m not a math person, I wasn’t as good,” Annabelle said. “I wasn’t good enough because art isn’t valued as much. I felt like I wasn’t as good at anything.”

Despite feeling that students have mellowed out when it comes to the constant competition in academics, anxiety induced by the never-ending list of assignments still plagues her junior year. After reluctantly contacting Mr. Ben Boruff, English teacher, about why she was behind on assignments, a wave of relief washed over her at his accommodating response. Although many teachers have been speaking about mental health, Annabelle feels that with Mr Boruff, she didn’t have to “prove herself” in order for him to understand.

“For the longest time, it felt like there was no adult that I could understand or confide in,” Annabelle said. “Only after knowing Mr. Boruff for a couple months, he’s already very understanding and trusting.