Keep on Smiling, Students

Charlotte Aexel, Reporter

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In the past short weeks of school, amid the bustle of everyday life, first assessments, first perfect scores and failures, sports games, club assemblies, and the occasional embarrassing moment (perhaps more often than occasional), I’ve heard a multitude of students claiming that the schoolwork is too much, too difficult, unbearable. That they couldn’t possibly take anymore of it.

“I’m so tired.”

“I got no sleep last night.” (Personal quote.)

However, as I was reflecting over the first few weeks, I stumbled across a line in a book (my second favorite of all time, that is), that describes the state of a student perfectly. In The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Wilde is detailing a scene in which Dorian is sleeping contentedly, waiting for his morning hot chocolate, forgetting about the disturbing painting in his attic.

At nine o’clock the next morning his servant came in with a cup of chocolate on a tray and opened the shutters. Dorian was sleeping quite peacefully, lying on his right side, with one hand underneath his cheek. He looked like a boy who had been tired out with play, or study.


The man had to touch him twice on the shoulder before he woke, and as he opened his eyes a faint smile passed across his lips, as though he had been lost in some delightful dream. Yet he had not dreamed at all. His night had been untroubled by any images of pleasure or of pain. But youth smiles without any reason. It is one of its chiefest charms.

Now, never in my life have I thought, Why, I am just like Dorian Gray, because that  would be a tad terrifying. However, as my eyes gently floated over the pages, I started to relate.

Think of life as a portrait. Your face, because of your age, and your standard of living, generally looks healthy (unless you have been knocked out by that awful cough going around that makes me look around for Keats). Most academy students are smiling, despite it all. Because, like Oscar so correctly said, for a youth, with so much ahead, there is always something to smile about.

But now return home, to your house in Brookfield or Elm Grove. And glance at your desk.

Oof. I just heard a collective sigh of why are you making me imagine my desk. It’s covered by now. Remember that quiz you took last week that you want to store away in the landfill and never talk about again? Remember that assignment for class that’s due tomorrow, but you still haven’t finished? Ah, ha! It’s your portrait, isn’t it?

For those of you who have read Wilde’s masterpiece, I don’t mean to frighten you.  Really, I don’t. And I don’t mean to say that our students display the qualities of Dorian Gray. Please don’t go around insulting the theatre students or attacking the art students. Most of us are better than that! Most of us are good people. Honest. Virtuous (for those of you who know me personally, this is not the same meaning of virtuous that I normally refer to.)

What I mean to point out is, use the excerpt above as an inspiration. After college, law school, or med school, or whatever it is you’re pursuing, you won’t be a student anymore. And that is the part of adult life that frightens me more than anything. Make every sleep one where you sleep perfectly because you were tired from play or study. And if there’s anything you need to move on from, lock it away in your “portrait”, because every day is a new day.

Always keep a smile on your face.

And never, ever stab your desk.

Have an excellent year!

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