What Matters Now? Just Listen.

Jan 17, 2017

My vox pop, a collection of students' voices, is a window to the inner thoughts of how high schoolers feel about themselves. It shows how the life of a high schooler revolves mostly around who they associate themselves with and their extracurricular activities. This is the time in our lives that has the biggest impression on us, and it is the time we are trying to learn who we are as people.

This audio project was built from my interest in learning how people see themselves. Originally it was self-image piece but as I progressed forward I realized it was becoming a more of a “Who Am I?” project. I guess both approaches fit for the project, but when hearing my peers explain to me how they reflect on themselves, I realized that the way they see themselves is who they are, and what makes them themselves.

Hearing different aspects from different people allow others to understand what high schoolers notice, what they pay attention to, what’s important to them and what they’re focused on. It becomes clear as people reflect on themselves, that most high schoolers are motivated by doing something interactive.

Sports, friends, and academics seemed to be a common factor of how these students see themselves, and these things keep them motivated to do well in school and to be seen in a better light by their peers. I think that schools need to keep providing opportunities for extracurriculars, and motivating students to interact with their peers and new people. These are the key factors to build the foundation for how high schoolers see and feel about themselves, so that way later on in their lives, once they’ve learned to get through this awkward phase in high school, they’re able to grow into themselves and learn their place in the world.

I approached this project by talking with a few of my friends, to see if they’d be open to being the first to be interviewed. I went to different lunches and pulled my friends away for about five minutes, interviewed them and then went to find someone else. I guess my friends had started talking because at one point when I returned to the cafeteria I had multiple people asking me to interview them. I was surprised and excited because I wasn’t sure if my peers would be open to this or even want to take part, so I was really happy when people started coming to me and asking if I would interview them instead of me having to awkwardly ask them if they’d be up for it.

I ended up interviewing about 19 people, trying to make sure the girl to boy ratio was fairly even; I felt that was important. I also sought out people from other grades. Most of my interviews were from people in my sophomore class, but I managed to get at least one other person from the freshman, junior and senior class. I wanted to make sure that my project had a variety of people.

I feel like my project was pretty successful; I’m really happy about how it turned out and it was really interesting to hear what my peers had to say. I learned a lot of new things about them and I was able to understand some of them on a different level than I have before.

Dionna Taylor is a sophomore at Traip Academy in Kittery.