High School Summer Reading and Response Projects 2020: The Happiness Advantage

Communications Office

Each year the high school community participates in a summer reading program. Students, faculty, and staff usually choose one book from four options that help the high school community start thinking about our yearly Odyssey trip. Along with the reading, students process their ideas by creating and sharing response projects that range from artwork to research papers and short cartoons to scientific endeavors. However, this year James Quillin and Jamie Lee found a different way for the community to have a shared experience over the summer while trying to build community as we prepared for a year without our Odyssey trip. They chose the book The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor.

Senior Charlie M. explains the book in this way: Achor addresses three main topics throughout The Happiness Advantage. Many students noticed that the author consistently reminds readers that the author went to Harvard. Mixed with these reminders, he asserts that the conventional wisdom of success first, happiness second is false; and similarly, he rewrites that wisdom and creates a path towards success that leads with happiness. Oftentimes, happiness feels out of our control. The Happiness Advantage, however, gives the reader seven principles to follow that are scientifically proven to lead to a happier self.

Tenth Grade: Sara A.

student artwork

For my creative response, I decided to paint the night and sunset on two different canvases which are connected by a tree. This painting is a representation of the 4th principle: The Tetris Effect. The Tetris Effect is when we train our brains to see patterns both negative and positive, which is the best way to enjoy everything that life throws at us. For this reason, the night and sunset are connected by a tree to show that together they make a beautiful painting. 

Eleventh Grade: Cidette R.

a student beekeeper tending the hive

Shawn Achor writes about how having a positive attitude can bring more palatable outcomes in any situation. For my response to The Happiness Advantage, I wanted to perform a scientific-like test. I asked if having an external positive attitude would change how I interact with bees when I beekeep. I approached the hive a few different ways, including once with compliments and good memories. In my short study, I found I was only stung six times when I approached with the compliments and good memories, compared to the eight to twelve stings I normally receive.

Twelfth Grade: Charlie M.

student presentation

For my response project, I tested all seven principles for two weeks to find out which worked best. At the end, I found that maintaining strong friendships, utilizing the Zorro Circle, and finding things to look forward to (a strategy within the first principle) made me the happiest and most motivated to work.


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