Naperville Student Calls For Change

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Tessa Newman, a junior at Naperville North High School, recently posted a petition on that called for the “pressure culture” at North to change.

“I want it to be okay to follow more than one path at Naperville North,” said Newman. “I want there to be a place for people who don’t want to be engineers or teachers or physicists. I think it should be an option to pursue passions and not just practical careers.”

It’s sparked a community-wide conversation, with students, parents, alumni and educators all signing on.

But this pressure is not limited to Naperville North, it’s something teens across District 203, 204 and beyond are feeling.

“This assumption that you have to be great and perfect to achieve high things, it’s not true,” said Chairman and CEO of Edgewood Clinical Services, Adam Russo. “But we put the pressure on kids, and kids are not perfect, because they’re human and they’re kids, and they’re expected to achieve this level of esteem, and it’s impossible. And then therefore they feel pressure.”

District 203 addressed this discussion at their recent Board of Education meeting, where they urged those who are struggling with pressure to seek help.

“Naperville 203 is committed to providing and assuring that we have a safe school environment for all of our kids, and work hard to nurture and support positive physical, social, emotional and intellectual growth out of all of our students at all times, that’s our number one priority,” said Superintendent of District 203, Dan Bridges.

While many have supported the petition, there are those who disagree with the sentiments. However, Tessa understands some of their complaints.

“A lot of people have come to me saying, I don’t think this is the school’s fault, neither do I,” said Newman. “I don’t blame the school. I’ve actually had a really great time at Naperville North, especially in the theater department, and I’m very grateful to a lot of teachers. The pressure culture is on all of us, it’s a community thing and it’s going to be on all of us to solve it.”

Tessa hopes the discussion will continue, and result in positive change in our community.

Naperville News 17’s Evan Summers reports.