HAC Withdrawal Syndrome


Most of us can relate to this.

Laura Nicolescu, Co-Editor-In-Chief

The bell ringing for the first time since early June. The smell of fresh pencils and new binders. The thumping of hundreds of hurried feet against the tile floors of the halls. The alarmed eyes of freshmen as they realize wander around the gigantic maize that is Centennial High School. The introduction of teachers to their new, summer-nostalgic students.

The first week of school. We survived it. And now the real fun begins.

Tests. Homework. Grades. Ranks. GPAs. Stress.

If you haven’t experienced at least one or more of these things yet, you might have a schedule consisting of blow-off classes and early release or late arrival. Or you’re a nostalgic high school graduate reading Cen10 News.

Remember our old friend, the Home Access Center? It’s set to open Tuesday, much to the dismay of those of us experiencing HACWS, or HAC Withdrawal Syndrome, a self-diagnosed disease that affects Centennial High School students. Its symptoms include an sudden, unhealthy, obsession with the color blue, an echoing voice in one’s head that repeats: Must. See. Grades. And of course, a compulsive need to check one’s updated rank and GPA. Not to mention daydreams about the “classwork” tab.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Whichever way you fall on the spectrum (ranging from thinking you’re still lounging on the couch watching Netflix or hardcore HACWS), we can all agree that school, is, well, stressful. Especially when all we hear in the halls is “what was the answer to number five,?” “what did you get on the test?” and of course, “what’s your rank?”

The instigator of HACWS. Photo by Laura Nicolescu.
The instigator of HACWS. Photo by Laura Nicolescu.

But here’s the thing. Ranks, grades, and GPAs don’t define us as human beings. We are more than a number, but we’re surrounded by a society that doesn’t allow us to think that.

“I’m not good enough.” “I got a 90 on my test.” “I’m not in the top 10% of my class.” “I’ll never get into college with an 89.” “I have no future.”

“I’m worthless.”

Most of us have had these thoughts at one point in our lives. And that needs to change.

We are surrounded by a society and a school system that labels us based on a “one size fits all” assumption. It doesn’t matter how amazing someone is at English, for example. If they are not in advanced math, they will never be able to get to the very top, partially because of an incredible competition that has intensified as the years go by.  

So what do we do? We take every possible AP class just because it ups our rank and GPA. Get involved in organizations we don’t care for just because it looks good on college applications. Beat ourselves up over a 90.

When did it get this bad? Why are we competing against people with different interests and different strengths? Why am I embarrassed to admit that I am a junior in Algebra 2?

Why are we all judged the same way?

There’s nothing we can do about society or the school system. But what we can do is stop telling ourselves we’re not good enough. We can, and we must—stop branding ourselves with a number that hardly means anything.

And let’s not forget—if we all get on HAC at 12:01 Tuesday morning, it’s likely going to crash, intensifying HACWS—so close, yet so far away.

So take it easy and remember, Titans—you’re more than a classwork tab.