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If I were to name my happiest, most fearful and the most exciting memory, it would be in school. I never agreed with the notion ‘Just the four years from class 9th to 12th, and then it's fun all the way’.

I believe it doesn't have to be a chase necessarily, there's absolutely no race to be on top, and if it's not fun all the way, then it's probably not worth doing.

I studied in the same school from kindergarten till Class 12 and it has been a haven of all sorts to me. From academics to extra curricular to friends I'll cherish for life, it has been a place where I've grown both as a student and as a person. My experience in school has framed my belief that whatever we do today leads up to something in the future, that all the dots connect to something greater. Every interest that I have explored has taught me something immensely valuable. Quizzing has taught me to think out of the box and that sometimes, the obvious may not necessarily be true; MUN-NING (Model United Nation) has taught me to expand my horizons, to let go of my own point of view and see things from a larger perspective, Design and Technology have taught me efficiency and imagination, and Music has taught me to remain calm in stressful times.  

School, more than an institution, is a culmination of many experiences and learnings. To me, academics is just one small part of what school has to offer. I think that school is a launchpad to explore as many interests as possible because of the safe cushion it provides in the form of friends, teachers and mentors. The biggest regret I have after leaving school is missing opportunities because I was scared. It is only after leaving school I realise that the small things I worried about hardly matter. If there are three things that make school, they are academics, co-curriculars and rich memories and experiences.

It's my view that academics are important but not solely important. As long as one is doing fairly well and has other interests, it shouldn't be a thing under the lens all the time. It’s much more to school than academics and it is essential to involve in different interests as we have literally nothing to lose in school. In 14 years of school, I realised it hardly matters whether one is topping the exams or not- but it is essential that one explores as much as one can. I personally believe that the goal should not be to become the top scorer, but to maximise what we learn from each discipline. Doing well in academics does not require stopping all interests and studying, it only requires a small amount of discipline which I believe everyone has.

I believe co-curriculars give a much interesting dimension to learning from experience. It was definitely the co-curricular activities that helped me transition from an introverted to a more extroverted view. If there is one thing I learnt participating in co-curriculars, it is that there is no limit to things we can learn and explore in school. The exposure, and the brilliant network of people it provided made me understand that there was an array of things that I should know about. It made me do things that were uncomfortable, that eventually made me realise that things cannot be comfortable all the time. Perhaps, the greatest lesson I learnt was staying open-minded for new things that may come my way, to be perceptive to opportunities that matter, and above all to keep learning new things.

The richest experiences undoubtedly come in senior school. It is when the school life draws to close, and the experiences that we have gathered over primary and middle school, start to shape us as a person. Our beliefs are challenged, schedules change, and the strongest memories of school life are etched in our mind.  The last three years of school were not less than a roller coaster ride for me. I organised school events with friends like a family, cried tears of happiness when the events ended and spent hours at each others’ home on the pretext of work where in reality we did nothing but ate and enjoyed. It wouldn’t be wrong if I say that we faced all types of difficulties that we could together, from one website getting mysteriously ‘hacked’ to planning afterparties and meetings. But in this process, I realised that all that matters to me in the end are the memories I made during the process. I may not remember my MUN committee in Chandigarh, but I remember that we all stayed up till 3 at night researching and listening to songs. 

 I could have put in more effort in everything, could have worked harder but I’m glad that I was reckless at times and seized every opportunity I had to enjoy, watch movies with them and have fun. It is essential to be on toes in the classroom, but it is as essential to slow down, and see things from a wider perspective. Because after all, neither it is a chase to be on top all the time nor it is a complete utopian playground. There is no meter to gauge the level of competition, and there is no set standard of perfection. To me, school is just another home we all have, to learn, to experiment and to make good memories.

Jeevesh Saxena scored 98% and 99% marks in class 10th and 12th respectively and was also awarded the All-Rounder of the year award for the session 2019-2020. Besides academics, he plays Violin, loves to read and likes exploring new technology and innovative ideas. He is currently working with an EdTech startup with the aim to create a community based learning platform.

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author.

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