Architecture captures our attention when we visit a new place. Buildings in Oaxaca captivated me when I was 10 years old, and the unappealing physical structure of a prospective college weakens my opinion of it now that I am 17. Good architecture is the result of solved problems, perseverance, and creativity. It incorporates function and beauty. A place without structural beauty must have inhuman amounts of spirit to make up for that lack.

Maren Schiffer

Why does this newfound preoccupation with architecture immediately refer me to thoughts about students? Right now, as I gaze out the window at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, I am pondering what kind of structure I have given myself over the years. I’m wondering if someone I know is a Courthouse kind of student, and how she got there. Did I always want to be a Courthouse type, but not turn out that way? Was asking questions and trying to answer them enough in recent years, even though I lost sight of some ambitions more than once?

Possibly my use of architectural symbolism needs work. Maybe it is wiser not to match yourself to a total outcome and instead build according to present needs. Or find the right building for yourself in the first place.

The older I become, the more I find myself thinking about organization and order, and where it is acceptable to draw the lines of self-discipline. Is it or is it not possible to chart out a life according to ambitions and goals? We all know that it’s impossible to stick to the original plan, but isn’t a plan, no matter how rough, the way we should begin?

My attention turns as well to the high school. It’s set in a gorgeous historic building, but speed bumps such as the No Child Left Behind program have not only harmed its reputation but also, in my opinion, slowed progress that is not test-related. There are amazing teachers, amazing programs, and at the same time, immense struggles. Did Santa Barbara High have good old days, or is this how it has always been, a seesaw with dilemma on one end and success on the other? Or, contrarily, is it now better than ever before?

Today I only have questions, so, appropriately, my answer to them all is just another one: Is balance key to a good structure?


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