Above and beyond: NHS students share how they handle high-pressure situations

Senior Tyler Sivertsen is studying for his calculus exam. Sivertsen can be found at the library working on homework throughout the school week.

Photo by Nina Scroggin

Senior Tyler Sivertsen is studying for his calculus exam. Sivertsen can be found at the library working on homework throughout the school week.

Over the summer, high-profile celebrities like Britney Spears and Simone Biles spoke out about being forced into the spotlight. Public and personal pressure caused a deterioration in the stars’ mental health, leading to Spears very publicly shaving her hair off in 2007 and Biles dropping out of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Noblesville High School has a variety of students who also find themselves in high-pressure situations, pushed to excel in different areas such as performing arts, academics, sports, and more. What have their experiences been like? How do they stay calm amidst the storm? 


SAT. ACT. GPA. These letters define a student’s high school years. Alone, maybe they seem insignificant. Accumulated, they can create one’s future. The stress to do well in academics, so that the vision’s for one’s life can be achieved, may occupy the thoughts of most high school students. Some may decide to do it all, maybe even too much, in order to see those A’s in the grade book. Others may let the stress take hold, and fall short of their goals. High-achieving students often fit the former description rather than the latter, but the reasons and perspectives behind doing so can vary.

Senior Tyler Nguyen is currently in five AP classes and has a GPA of a whopping 4.51. Though Nguyen may seem like the pinnacle of all high-achievers, he defines this term a bit differently.

“High achievers want to be the best at their discipline or achieve a better understanding while low achievers are fine with just being good,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen agrees that he fits the bill of being high-achieving in some aspects of his life. He credits this title to his thorough and strict study regimen.

“Some techniques that have helped me do well in classes are doing assignments and homework for comprehension rather than rushing through them for completion,” Nguyen said. 

Junior Cooper Conrad seems to agree that digging deeper into the classes’ content leads to better understanding. He considers using the resources available to students of the utmost importance. 

“A lot of times I try to find a YouTube video with a tutorial if I’m struggling a bit,” Conrad said. 

Though it can be difficult for some, Conrad believes the power of asking for help should never be underestimated.

“It sounds stupid, but there really aren’t dumb questions, you just need clarification,” Conrad said.

And even when those hard concepts don’t click and those A’s can’t be reached, Conrad says even straight A students have moments where trying their best doesn’t amount to the grade they had hoped, and he encourages students to just keep going. 

“I’m usually a little disappointed in myself, I wish I could have done better, but I use that experience to try to prepare for next time and not to let it happen again,” Conrad said. 

Another academic high-achiever, senior Tyler Sivertsen, sometimes feels the weight of the world on his shoulders while trying to balance a successful senior year and a bustling personal life. He has set the bar considerably higher than the average high school student, and says that he expects nothing short of all A’s in every class and a score of five on every AP exam.

“I think saying it can be hard would be an understatement,” Sivertsen said. “The expectations I have for myself have led me down a path of rarely ever feeling successful or that I have been able to accomplish something.”

Even so, he values time for himself after the day’s work is done. 

“Reserve a day for yourself to relax and allow your mind to calm,” Sivertsen said. “I was not very successful in doing that and it has taken a very strong toll on my mental health and emotional well-being. Academics will come far easier if you are always well-rested and happy.”

Junior Lily Henning has accumulated a 4.05 GPA through her three years of high school, and has taken a total of five AP classes. However, her beliefs about high academic achievement distinguishes her from many of her peers.

“In my opinion, if you’re still trying and pressing on despite your failures, you’re a high achiever,” Henning said. 

She recognizes that certain circumstances and situations may prevent some students from achieving their full potential, and Henning acknowledges that her strongly rooted support system has helped her achieve all that she has. She explained that her pastor has encouraged her to reach further and further for her goals because of certain privileges she has that others do not.

“I can’t just stop at getting my masters in college, I have to go further, because if he can do that as somebody who wasn’t born in the US, what can I do?” Henning said. 

As a first generation American, with parents who immigrated from Kenya, Henning considers this a factor in why academics have become her life’s greatest passion. This idea takes precedence over other aspects of her life.

“You need to understand your priorities,” Henning said. “For example, mental health should definitely be a big priority. It’s so important.”

Though academics are a major part of Henning’s life, she understands that they may not be everyone’s greatest priority. She encourages students to not give into the stresses and pressures of high school, but to keep doing things that bring them joy.

“What matters most is doing things you’re happy with or passionate about,” Henning said.


Body next to body and scream after scream, Noblesville fans often find themselves cheering student athletes to victory. Fans get the privilege of seeing athletes lead the Millers to victory and experience the high gained from watching them perform. But what spectators might not see are the hard work, and even failures, that individual players put into their beloved sports in order to earn a Miller win. 

Aidan Biddle is a high-performing swimmer for the Millers. As a junior, Biddle spends a majority of his time in the pool. Working to improve his individual times, Biddle says, can be stressful.

“I hold myself to a pretty high standard. I push myself every single day and I like to see my results show that as well,” Biddle said. 

Biddle uses a variety of tactics in order to maintain his mental health and ultimately perform well on race day, but he ultimately relies on having the right mindset. 

“You gotta have the right mindset, you gotta want to get better, and then you gotta have that translate to actually working hard and pushing yourself when you can,” Biddle said. 

Mental health can be more of a factor in an athlete’s performance than many may realize, as it can make or break the way the performer is seen by others and by themselves. Biddle reminds himself of his motivations for pursuing his sport, allowing for little pressure to negatively affect his performance. 

“To be honest with you, I don’t feel a lot of pressure. I feel like I’m doing this for me. So I’m not worried about what other people think. If I am able to do this in college, great, if I’m not, great.” Biddle said.

On the other hand, junior Drew Page, a varsity football player for NHS, has found himself in many high-stress situations that have put him in a state of doubt and self-consciousness.

“The pressure can be immense if you have a lot of people telling you how good you are. Messing up can mess with your brain and make you feel like you’re not allowed to make mistakes,” Page said. 

Though football can create stress for Page, he is able to find comfort and reassurance through prayer. This allows Page to overcome his worries and recognize his self worth.

“I like to pray before every football camp and game with my mom. Praying over me, and feeling like I have God on my back, makes me feel ten-times better every time I go out and do something,” Page said.

High expectations are often found to be a common trend among student athletes. Especially with screaming fans watching your every move. And when you add college into the mix, the stakes can be high. 

With dreams of playing one day at Ohio State, Purdue, or Nebraska, Page expects a lot from himself, giving 100 percent on and off the field. 

“I expect myself to perform to the best of my ability, every day, every week, every month, every year. There’s no reason for me not to. I was gifted this skill, and to not use it to the best of my ability feels almost blasphemous.” Page said. 

And to others gifted with a skill they may not be sure how to utilize, Page offers this bit of advice. 

“If you’re dedicated to the sport, no matter the hardships, you will always be more successful than those who aren’t. Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard. When you dedicate yourself to work as hard as you can, it will show,” Page said.

Paying attention to what your body needs can be crucial for any athlete. Taking care of yourself is the first step towards success and one heck of a winning streak.


It’s easy to see high-achievers in academics or athletics, but another set of stars of the show are the high-achieving students in performing arts. 

On a typical day at Noblesville High School, many students will sit in the back of class with their focusing drifting in and out. Junior Mason Cannady eagerly awaits orchestra class, a place where he excels. 

“I’d say my highest achievements would be being accepted into an international orchestra to tour Europe, which was sadly cancelled due to COVID. Also, this summer I will be playing at the world renowned Carnegie Hall in New York City,” Cannady said. 

When dealing with stress, Cannady has a few tricks to balance his commitments to both school and music.

“You really have to be disciplined to yourself and take it a week at a time, even just one day at a time sometimes. Everyone has 24 hours a day, it’s how you spend those 24 hours that makes a difference,” Cannady said.  

When he has to overcome stress, Cannady follows a consistent philosophy.

“Why do I practice my violin all the time? So I can win a competition or have a great performance. Remind yourself what you are doing really helps find the motivation. M&Ms also don’t hurt as small incentives to reward yourself,” Cannady said. 

While Cannady is playing his violin, junior Maddux Morrison is sweeping the audience off their feet with his show-stopping performances on the theater stage.

“Last year my friend and I did a Thespis [duet performance].  We got best in show, which was best in state. I also received best soloist in a show choir performance and won a singing competition at the state fair,” Morrison said. 

With show choir season approaching, and a role as a lead in the musical which is set to premiere in this fall, Morrison also feels the pressure.

“Right now being the lead in the musical has a lot to it. Also because I’m a junior, not a senior, I have to work harder. I am a perfectionist, so I definitely try to make everything I do perfect, and obviously that’s not always going to happen,” Morrison said. 

As Morrison stuns the audience, people behind the curtain quietly work to make the magic happen. Junior Cass Henson manages the musical with help from junior Trevor Greenlee. 

“I was a freshman inductee into the school’s thespian troupe. I did over a hundred hours of work behind the scenes. I was also one of the stage managers last year, I took care of COVID precautions, making sure everyone was safe. And currently I am the stage manager for High School Musical,” Henson said. 

Henson holds herself to high standards for her personal life and her role in production.

“I expect myself to be very patient. I also expect myself to be very organized. The reason I am so patient is that stage managers that I’ve worked with before weren’t. I was a freshman, and it wasn’t encouraging for them to get frustrated with me for being new,” Henson said. 

Greenlee is co-stage manager with Henson, who shares the pressure of the workload.

“I’ve put blood, sweat, and tears into this musical. Luckily it isn’t just me, and I can ask for help and a break when I need it,” Greenlee said. 

Despite the high amounts of pressure, Henson refers to performing arts as her saving grace. 

“I have built real friendships out of theater. I’m so glad that I became a part of this because I don’t know what I’d do without them,” Henson said.  “I would definitely be in a completely different place, theater saved me.”


You’ve probably seen these people before. They’re the ones who wake up at 4 AM and stay in school until 6 PM. They’ve got textbooks in one hand, sports equipment in the other, and can be seen frantically rushing through the school halls. We all want to be them because it seems like they’ve got everything together. But are they just faking it or have they really cracked the code?

One student who’s involved in almost everything is Noblesville High School senior Nathaniel Cook. He’s Student Body President, manages the girl’s basketball team, takes five advanced classes, and is the lead saxophone player with NHS’s Jazz Band. 

“I’ve been told that I’m high achieving. I don’t want to say that I am, but I’m certainly proud of the work that I’ve put into school,” Cook said.

With participation in so many activities, things can get difficult, but Cook has found a way to get through it.

“I think that I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I realized I don’t have to see high school as this abstract concept,” Cook said. “Having that frame of reality helped me understand that it’s all gonna be alright.”

But even for a student like Cook, there’s a limit to what extent students should push or challenge themselves.

“When it begins to have a toll on your mental health, it’s probably negative and it’s okay to take a step back,” Cook said.

Like Cook, another student at Noblesville High School who by many is considered a high-achiever is senior Connor Meinerding. He is involved in band, plays football, and has a GPA above 4.00. He participates in so many activities because they help him develop important skills. 

“Finding success in my activities, after putting in hard work, is the best feeling in the world,” Meinerding said. “These activities are so important because they’ve given me everything. Ninety percent of my friends are from my classes or teams, and it’s given me a sense of self identity.”

Meinerding believes that the best way to manage your personal life with school is different for everyone. 

“Just find what works best for you. Personally, blocking out my time and visualizing the day ahead of me keeps me on pace in all of my activities,” Meinerding said. “And if you’re passionate about something, I’m a firm believer that you’ll find time to do it. Find your passion, and you’ll be set.” 

Meinerding sees other factors which he believes set high-achievers apart.

“I think the difference [between high achieving students and their peers] is two things. First, there are the things you can’t control. I’ve been lucky enough to have an extremely supportive family and friend group that pushes me to be a high achiever. Some may have circumstances outside of their control,” Meinerding said. “But also, I think most high achievers are willing to sacrifice their time to achieve success.”

Like Meinerding, senior Jada Propst at Noblesville High takes part in many activities. She is a swimmer, part of the school’s New Dimension choir, and has a GPA over 4.00. 

“All the activities that I do, I enjoy. I just expect myself to work hard and put in the effort, as long as I do that, I am happy,” Propst said. 

Propst has been able to figure out what she can do to help balance her life. 

“I’ve made it somewhat of a rule that I don’t do any work in my bedroom and I make sure to put up any work by 9 p.m.,” Propst said. “Those habits have definitely lessened the pressure and anxieties that come with being busy.”