Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School
79° Rockville, MD
The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

Lt. Col. Avi Levi presents on the Israel Air Defense System.
JDS hosts speakers from Israeli Embassy
Mia Forseter, Sports Editor • May 22, 2024

Following Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha'atzmaut, CESJDS invited three speakers from the Israeli embassy to further inform students about Israel and...

Joe Vogel speaking out to the community. Photo from
It takes a village
Adam Salomon, Reporter • May 22, 2024

While, door-to-door campaigning, Junior Rafi Seigel knocks on the door of a family household in Maryland’s sixth district, asking them to vote...

Sophomore Oliver Silver teaches his grandparents what hes been learning in math this year.
Dor L' Dor Day
Gila Safra, Reporter • May 22, 2024

Summer vs. winter
Summer vs. winter
Eliana Abrams and Maya GreenblumMay 20, 2024

Lions hold up banner after defeating Sandy Spring in the championship.
Varsity softball wins championship two years in a row
Tyler Portnoy, Reporter • May 19, 2024

Crack. The bat hits the ball and sophomore Carrine Shemesh sprints towards first base as sophomore Eliana Wolf crosses the plate, scoring the...

The baseball team has two managers who can be found at the majority of the baseball teams games, Jordan Levy (‘24) and junior Josh Berl.
All bases covered: managers support the baseball team
Vivi Ducker, Features Editor • May 17, 2024

When in attendance at any of the CESJDS varsity baseball team’s games this year, next to the players on the bench, the baseball team managers....

Opinion: The CESJDS atmosphere is too competitive

Sophie Schwartz

Contrary to what I expected, one of the most stressful parts of high school for me has been the conversations surrounding grades, extracurriculars and anything else that will be displayed to colleges. While I still experience pressure from my classes, there is no pressure quite like the one invoked from discussions about academics across the student body.

It is not a question that CESJDS is esteemed for its high quality academics, with a past recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School, a U.S. Department of Education recognition of academic excellence. In addition, a high percentage of each graduating class continues to higher education. However, these high quality academics and success in the college application process come at a high cost, as they are fostering an environment of constant competition among students. 

Preparation and concern for college is embedded into the high school experience, however, I believe at JDS the competitive mindset among the student body has reached an uncomfortable extreme. 

Starting freshman year, students are paired with an academic advisor. By March, we sit down with them to discuss the courses we will take the following year, and whether we want to discuss it or not, we have to consider how these courses will reflect for colleges.

Already after being connected to our counselors, conversations circulated among my peers about who got the “best” counselor based off of which seniors got into “better” schools, who will use an outside of school counselor and which courses we will take sophomore year to look best for college. 

Then, just as sophomore year begins, we are seated in rows across the gym taking the Pre-ACT, and just a week later, the PSAT. While the scores hold very little significance, students once again immersed themselves in endless conversations comparing their scores to each others’ .

However, freshman and sophomore year are just a preview of the intensity that the SAT and ACT process bring junior year, along with college visits and applications senior year. By the time seniors are feeling the stress of hearing back from colleges, the whole high school is engaged in the results, intensifying the stress and pressure. 

Commitment Instagram accounts, which publish where each JDS senior is going after high school, have hundreds of followers from students in every grade. However, that isn’t all: Students exchange information they hear through the grapevine of which students got rejected from colleges that others were accepted to. 

As the youngest of three, I have been surrounded by college discussions since I was nine years old, with school and friends my age being my one escape from the conversations. When I came to JDS freshman year, I didn’t think I would have to worry so much about it until at least sophomore year. However, even in the beginning of freshman year my peers seemed to be so concerned about the topic.

These conversations are not only stressful, but bad for students’ self esteem. Oftentimes, I would end up feeling bad about some aspect of my academic life, and I am not alone. Discussing grades, class levels and clubs are typically conversations with underlying competitiveness, as students get intimidated by hearing that others are doing more than them. 

This stress causes many students to stretch themselves thin by signing up for only ADV classes out of concern for their GPA or how they may appear to others, signing up for too many clubs or extracurricular activities. By doing so, these students end up not taking the classes or doing the activities they are truly interested in or that are the best fit for them. While it may seem beneficial for their resume, the value of high school is taken away when you cannot stop competing with the people around you.  

The most positive interactions I have had with my peers have been during breaks from school like field trips and Shabbatonim, because the academic element, and thus the competitiveness of the academic environment, are being taken away. However, this should not be the case, and we should be able to have just as positive and stress-free interactions throughout the school day, too.  

At a school like JDS, where students often have a lot of overlap and are involved in each others’ business due to the small size of the school, it is important to not get too caught up in the competitive culture, as many students do.

At the end of the day, you are just in high school. It is important to work hard and recognize where hard work can take you, but it is also important to find a balance and not let school and grades consume your life and relationships.

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About the Contributors
Maiya Blumenthal
Maiya Blumenthal, Opinion Editor
Maiya is so excited to continue her work on the Lion’s Tale this year as an opinion editor. She can’t wait to help people share their ideas with the community in this role. Outside of Lion’s Tale, Maiya plays basketball, tennis and piano, and participates in Friendship Circle and the CESJDS Debate Team. Maiya can’t wait to work with the rest of the Lion’s Tale staff to produce interesting and unique content this year.  
Sophie Schwartz
Sophie Schwartz, Opinion Editor
Sophie is excited to continue her work on the Lion’s Tale this year as an opinion editor. She is looking forward to helping the new staff and designing creative spreads. Outside of Lion’s Tale, Sophie plays on the JDS Girls Tennis team, is a team leader for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and participates in the STARS program and the AJC teen initiative. In addition, she loves playing with her dog, cooking, going to the beach, and hanging out with her family and friends. She can’t wait to work with her co-editor to produce an amazing opinion section.  

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