Before school, students gather for meetings to complete a group project. At lunch, they they attend their respective club meetings. After school, they head out to the field for after school sports practice to prepare for their upcoming game.
Despite everyone’s individual goals in high school, team building exists in many forms around MVHS. Whether it be playing on a sports team or simply completing a group project for a class, most students are learning vital social interaction and character building skills on a daily basis.
Outside the Classroom
At any given time in a day, there are several types of team building that students participate in around campus. These activities can be focused on academic topics, or simply an effective pastime for students.
One predominant area of team building is attending club meetings. Clubs displaying team involvement stretch from the National Science Honors Society, where students split into groups to complete labs, to the several magazine publications on campus.
Team involvement through clubs allows students to connect with other like-minded people and thus feel comfortable with contributing to discussions in the club.
This is especially true for quieter, more reserved students.
Sophomore Shivani Gupta, a member of several clubs around campus, believes joining clubs is important for learning essential social interaction skills.
“No matter how quiet someone is, meeting new people can change a person so much,” Gupta said. “It helps them really associate with people on a personal level.”
This idea holds true because when students in a club work toward a shared goal, they develop trust for their peers. Through communicating and collaborating in a club setting, with students encouraging one another for involvement and participation, there is a great area for building self-esteem as well as relationships with the people that students associate with.
Raising confidence is essential for students who are quieter, allowing them to begin contributing their ideas in a risk-free setting.
Gupta agrees, stating that her personal experiences with clubs have made her more comfortable with meeting new students and expanding from her friends group. Gupta also believes clubs help eliminate cliques at school.
“[Clubs] have made me a lot more social because I’ve got to experience all types of people and I’ve learned to associate with them.” Gupta said. “The whole idea of cliques in high school takes a toll on someone, but clubs allow forming positive relationships and groups.”
Another popular team activity that a large majority of students participate in is after school sports. Sports not only allow social interaction, but also physical and mental advantages.
Sports allow students to develop a great skill set of important aspects of life that would not necessarily be possible to obtain just through classroom activities. Although sports are definitely time consuming, they pose great advantages in everyday life.
Sophomore Divya Shridar is a captain of the girls junior varsity tennis team. She has been playing on the team since her freshman year, making tennis an integral part of her life. Shridar is a huge supporter of joining after school sports and believes that no matter how “unathletic” someone thinks they are, they are definitely capable of gaining a lot of experience and knowledge on a sports team.
Shridar recalls the positive impacts being on a sports team, with benefits ranging from her daily life and personality to her academic performance.
“[Tennis] actually released a lot of my stress and I became a lot more positive because it’s not just like losing or winning that matters anymore, it’s more of like a team bonding,” Shridar said. “You’re making sure that everyone puts in equal effort into the team and that everyone is just doing their best no matter their capability or ability is.”
One great skill that Shridar gained through her experiences with her team is selflessness. When people work together in such a close setting for a whole season, they tend to lose interest in just themselves and start focusing on the success of the whole group, which is exactly what Shridar experienced on her team.
She also added how she “works so much more efficiently now,” adding onto the idea of a rise in academic performance. Reflecting back on a time when she used to work a lot more freely, Shridar’s new focus has helped her overcome challenges with a lot more determination and stick to something until she has finished it.
One of the last, and perhaps the most important benefits, is the sense of family one feels when on a team.
Shridar has personally felt a great impact in her social interactions with people and the difference in community she has seen on and off the court.
“When you expect it, you expect there to be so much drama but everybody is just out there and they have their own stress at school and they’re playing this to help them not think about school and destress from whatever they want,” said Shridar. “No one finds the need to put on a mask. They’re just themselves and in their comfort zone.”
Shridar’s positive community building experiences tie directly back to those of Gupta’s. Clubs and sports teams both provide the prime opportunity to put oneself out there and release pent up stress, whether it be intellectually, physically, or socially.
Inside the Classroom
Since not all students at Monta Vista are closely associated with clubs or after school sports, another major form of team building students encounter is group projects or teamwork in a classroom setting.
Several subjects, such as literature and science classes, are examples of places where students work in groups to accomplish certain tasks.
Not only do group tasks encourage students to collaborate with one another, tying back to the idea of learning social interaction, but they also teach students how to divide tasks in a team and learn about their personal talents.
A personal experience Gupta has with the benefits of classroom team building regards a student in her World Core Literature class.
“[He] sits across from me and he’s changing and becoming more talkative and responsive and communicating with so many more people now,” Gupta said. “It’s really great to see that change.”
This positive change that comes for some students is due to a variety of factors.
When students have to work for a common goal, they generally take on a challenge that’s bigger than something they could accomplish themselves.
This can be a great inspiration for students who especially feel ostracized from their peers, reminding them that they’re better than they think of themselves and that they can accomplish more if they keep persevering.
In addition, working in a team in a classroom trains students to tackle problems in new ways. They learn more beneficial techniques to approach obstacles, eventually leading to a rise in academic and personal performance.
What Do These Benefits Lead To?
When someone gets stressed, due to things such as test anxiety or an overload of work, there is an increase in the release of stress hormones from the hypothalamus, an area in the brain which correlates with the nervous system.
Two of the main stress hormones released include adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones cause immediate negative changes in the body, including muscle tension, loss of coordination, and breathing difficulties.
However, the body can be trained to lower the release of these hormones and maintain a healthier overall state.
Gaining skills such as confidence, comfort with peers, and a higher self respect are just a few ways to improve mental health and decrease the release of these stress hormones since they instead increase the release of “happy hormones” including endorphins and dopamine.
Being part of a team is a great step toward gaining these essential life skills and improving health. As Shridar recalled, although a team building activity may definitely be an extra time commitment, it will pay off in the long run and provide an ideal stress relieving escape from current school work.