By SRO Kjell Michelsen

Sometimes even when writing a bi-weekly column it can be hard coming up with something meaningful to write about. I usually start a week or so before my due date, and when we have projects at school or something I find interesting to share about Norway, it’s a fairly easy process, but going into last week I pretty much had a blank canvas to fill and not much to fill it with. That all changed on a Saturday evening at our very own high school.

My wife and I went to our school to see an original play written and performed by the Drama II class at our school. Our daughter is one of the students in the play, so we felt an extra obligation to come and support her and her fellow drama students. The one-act play, “We’re All Fine,” was written to showcase what an average high school day looks like, the challenges students face, the constant drive for excellence, to fit in, to stand out.

What really stood out in this play was not a big stage creation with impressive props, but rather the absence of it, just a couple of tables and the students themselves, their own stories, often raw, even heartwrenching and sometimes funny in a “Shakesperian way.” We are extremely fortunate to have a very well run drama class at our school headed by Lori Ann Wright who has such a passion for theatre arts and the students themselves that make them go above and beyond, something this play so clearly showed.

Often one doesn’t think about it, but being a teenager today is not like it was just a few short years ago. The introduction of smartphones, high-speed internet and a virtual jungle of apps and social media platforms filled with so-called influencers. These influencers are often teenagers themselves who are paid big money to show off what is supposed to be a perfect, worry-free life while advertising for various make-up and fashion products.

These influencers, often combined with a pressure for excellence in both sports and academics, can sometimes be a driving force behind high stress levels that can show itself as both insecurities and various behavioral problems some of which can be very well hidden; hence this play was such a great way to open the door to these and other issues our students are facing, often on a daily basis.

When I was in my teens, I would often hear from older folks that “today’s youth have it so easy; nothing compared to when we grew up.” And would you not know it, pretty much all of us are saying the same thing to the teenagers today, “ah look at you all – internet, smartphones, computers in class, you have no idea when we had to rewind a VHS tape or seek out information in a 500 page Oxford dictionary.”

Times are indeed changing. But some things seem to stay the same; the struggle for teenagers to fit in, often trying to live up to high expectations, to explore and grow, to learn from mistakes, and to sometimes say when asked how they are, “We’re All Fine.”