Mary Albertolle

'Take time to appreciate today'

How to manage the stresses of high school?

"Stay off Facebook," suggests newly minted Palo Alto High School graduate Mary Albertolle.

"It sounds so basic, but (Facebook) is a huge, time-consuming thing, and it's easy to spend hours on there unintentionally."

The varsity basketball player and student-magazine editor learned hard lessons in time management earlier in high school when she realized the demands of Paly's theater productions, which she adored, were simply not compatible with varsity athletics.

After roles in "On the Razzle," "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Anne Frank" -- as well as traveling with a Paly production to the Edinburgh (Scotland) Fringe Festival two summers ago Albertolle reluctantly bid farewell to the high school stage.

She focused her last two years in high school on basketball and The Viking, Paly's six-times-a-year sports magazine, which this year added a 24/7 online presence as well.

What she'll most miss about high school is Paly's sense of community, Albertolle said.

"I love the spirit we have, not only athletically but academically," she said.

"Obviously, I'll also miss my family and friends."

What she will not miss: "The crazy amount of homework mixed with extracurricular activities mixed with SAT testing and college applications -- the whole jumble of things," she said.

"In college I'll also have a lot of work but more time to explore what I want to do and not be so 'on track' that you can't really choose."

After working as a counselor in a summer day camp for 3- to 7-year-olds, Albertolle heads to the University of California at Santa Barbara this fall, where she's officially "undecided" but contemplating majors in communications, psychology or sociology.

In 10 years, she pictures herself "working somewhere and enjoying life."

Albertolle's advice to a new Paly student would be to "appreciate today, and don't always dwell on 'Where am I going to be next year?' or 'Oh my goodness, I have three tests next week.'

"People in high school are so focused on college and the future -- just slow down and live in the moment," she said.

Much as Facebook can be a distraction, technology and social networking also define her generation, she said.

"Even with these graduation farewells, the pain and reality of it is lessened by the fact that we can connect on the Internet any time, send a text or call someone so easily."

-- Chris Kenrick

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