Race Car Driving Student Says School Needs to Learn From the Track

Jun 10, 2018

“Strictlys come down and line up!” 

When I hear this announcement, it's time to get ready to race. This is the best, yet the most nerve-wracking thing to hear to start out my day. I get my car ready and head to line up. As I wait to be called out on the track with the other Wiscasset Speedway Strictly Streets, which are stock 6/8 cylinder cars, I feel my stomach get into a knot. My foot starts to bounce off the peddle, and the anxiety comes to an all-time high. Some may think this is a bad feeling but coming from a racer’s perspective, there's no other feeling like it.

When the green flag waves, my heart rate jumps sky high. I stay focused and look at what's ahead of me, and try and do the best that I can. I focus on getting faster every lap, working on my groove, and keeping my eyes open for any sudden action ahead or around me.

When I am racing, I have fans that watch. I have people who believe in me, and who encourage me to keep trying even when I’m upset or didn't finish the way I wanted to. Many people see value in me at the track. There's no judgment, and I don't have to come in first to be considered "good."  I have my own goals, and there's no one defining if what I'm doing is good enough. I can decide what I do, how I do it, and whether or not I am proud of my driving. 

On the other hand, school is a very pressured experience of living up to someone else's expectations. 

You don't get to decide what's good enough. You don't get to decide if you can just, "Do better next time." Because once you get that bad grade, it reflects on all your other work, even when you try your hardest. 

I've always struggled with school; some subjects are stronger than others. But school can be so triggering when there are students sitting next to me who complain about their 85 grade when I barely passed. 

There's no reward in that; I don't set my own goals. Someone else decides if I'm good. Someone else tells me what I need to do and how I do it. Someone else is in control of the way I do my work, and if I don't follow the exact rules, it's instantly a bad grade and I’m being looked down on. 

I realize things may not change because school will always be school. I'm not asking for a huge change. A little change can help everyone. I want people to recognize my needs, and the needs of many others students who struggle like me. 

Everyone needs some reward sometimes, something to make them keep pushing hard even though their work might not live up to the expectations of another student. I want my teachers to be my fans even when I'm not perfect. I want them to realize I'm trying, and give me the time I need when I'm really trying hard. 

Faith Cleaves is a race car driver, and a student at Freeport High School.