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While high school is primarily an educational experience, it is also a chance for teenagers to reflect on their personality and learn how to interact with their peers.
Students get to know each other through common classes, lunch hour, passing periods and extracurricular activities.
Dating however, provides a completely new opportunity to experiment and contemplate the meaning of commitment and responsibility with respect to a significant other.
“It’s a learning experience,” said Kristen Haertling, a junior at Los Alamos High School.
Although many relationships are short-lived, each party walks away learning something about themselves, their emotions and how to interact with others.
The majority of these partnerships however, lack a critical foundation: commitment.
High school students seem to start dating for reasons such as social status, a desire for qualities absent in themselves — and even sex.
That is not to say that there are no long-term relationships in high school.
Lasting partnerships are usually based on commitment through friendship, common interests and mutual support.
“It’s a mixture of the maturity level and the circumstances and the people themselves, that create a relationship that either works or doesn’t. And depending on how you deal with it, it can either hurt you or help you grow,” said Katie Downing, a junior at LAHS.
Although dating has proved a viable test of commitment for some couples, being in a relationship does have its consequences.
Boyfriends and girlfriends are distractions from schoolwork, family and friends.
Moreover, loyal relationships require that couples put a lot of time and effort into getting to know each other and establishing a sense of trust.
The pressure to balance a new relationship with an already stressful schedule often proves to be a difficult feat.
For some students, the stress is too much to handle. So instead, they choose to start dating when they are in college.
On the other hand, couples that will be graduating from high school in the coming months see college as a roadblock.
Going to different universities is a test of commitment. Sustaining a relationship in those circumstances can be difficult.
To overcome this hurdle, some couples attend the same colleges or visit each other during school breaks.
Simona Martin, a senior at LAHS, said that Skype seems to be the best way for couples to keep in touch when school is in session.
Despite the looming obstacle college presents, many students still take chances and hope for successful relationships.
After all, high school is full of change, getting to know oneself and others.
“If you want to figure out what you like and who you like, go for it,” Martin said.