Trent G., Oakwood High School
Thriving not Surviving
Legs are accelerating, one in front of the other. Arms raise up from my sides and a 12.5 foot pole is stuck into a small box a few feet out. Then, flight is taken; in a few seconds, the world is upside down but only for a brief moment. Then it’s gone; ascension over the bar and the pushing off the pole takes place. One lands into a soft pit below. During my eighth grade track season, I discovered my love for pole- vaulting. I enjoyed it, but by the end of the season, I had a sense I could be good at it. This compelled me to research high school and college pole- vaulting records, reviewing heights that would qualify for state. I then set goals to achieve over the next four years of high school. Pole -vaulting is becoming not just a beloved sport with well defined goals but is also my metaphor for navigating the challenges and choices a teenager faces.
Pole vaulters have expectations to meet; the longer they participate in the sport the higher they’re suppose to jump. As teenagers grow up, they too have expectations to meet with society and their parents. They have to work hard in school; they have to participate in extracurricular activities to help discover what they enjoy and who they want to be. They’re expected to behave honorably and honestly in their social atmosphere; yet, they’re expected to screw up; it’s with mistakes, that they’re suppose to learn.
How then do pole vaulters better themselves to attain success and meet their expectations? They have to understand three essentials to pole vaulting. First, the runway- vaulters use the runway to gain the momentum they need to get a good vault. For me as a teenager, the runway represents participating in sports, in challenging academics, and in extracurricular activities that excel me down the “ runway” toward reaching my goals. Secondly, although pole vaulters can zoom down the runway in record time, they need a pole to launch them into the air. Good pole vaulters know how to hold and use their pole to get them as high in the air as possible. As a teenager, my pole is all my god given talents and gifts. I can participate on as many teams as I want, but if I have no no athletic ability or talents, then I would have no success with them. I am blessed though; confidence comes easy and naturally, and I have a strong amount of athletic ability, which allows me to find success in all the extra circulars. Finally, vaulters go over the height bar and land in the soft pit. As a teenager my height bar is simply represented by my goals and my pit is represented by avoiding doing bad things such as underage drinking and drug consumption as result of staying focused on my goals. This is my plan to not survive high school, but to thrive during it.