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Best Friends Forever McKenzie Canton

The music rings through the speakers and laughter fills the room. Friends gathered together in the celebration of Claire Wisdom's birthday as decorations covered the walls and sophomores Abby Chambless and Tatum Sikes realize the other's presence in the room, soon enough introductions were made, smiles exchanged, and before they knew it, five years worth of friendship in the making.

Peers connect throughout a lifetime, even babies learn to make friends. Unbreakable bonds form with one another, lasting years down the road. Some people believe friendships don’t pass the surface and nothing becomes too personal. But when in reality, friendship affects people mentally and physically. In high school, it proves substantial to have close-knit ties with other people, like Chambless and Sikes.

“When I first met Tatum I didn’t think we would ever become best friends,” Chambless said. “I thought she was kind of weird.”

Chambless and Sikes pose for a photo on a chilly, fall afternoon.

To meet a friend for the first time, whether it is on good terms or not, is an important moment to remember. Studies show that friendship helps lift the weight off people’s shoulders when stressed and makes them feel more confident when it comes to being themselves. Teens and adults, with strong friend support, have reduced health risks like - high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index.

Highschoolers nowadays report higher stress levels during the school year than adults do on a daily basis. Healthy stress polls indicate it to be 4.6 vs 3.9 on a 10 point scale, but teens attending education of some sort reach stress levels of 5.8. Though, those that acknowledged their stress and talked to peers they trust to help lowered their alarming rate.

“When teachers give loads of homework and I feel stressed,” Sikes said. “I ask to hang out [with friends] and have a fun time so it’s kind of a relief.”

Statistically, highschoolers with healthy friendships have an easier time managing stress and are able to get things done quicker. With a strong support system, teens are also more likely to avoid the depression that takes hold of many. As many as 1.9 million children between the ages of 3 to 17 report to have been diagnosed with depression in the past couple of years. Though, teens with close relationships with others are exceptionally lower than those who typically go through it alone.

“[Tatum] helps me a lot with my homework when I’m stressed or confused because I would say she is better at school than I am,” Chambless said.

Friendships can start in various ways, Chambless and Sikes met at a social event with the awkwardness between them speaking louder than the music in the room, yet now they’re inseparable. With their long hours at school and at the tennis courts, then balancing family and outside school activities, their lives are filled to the brim, pushing them to realize how essential friendship can be. They continue to push through their journey together throughout high school, though.

“Sometimes [we struggle]. We have mutual friends, but we also hang out with different crowds. It's hard sometimes to make plans if she wants to hang out with them or vice versa,” Sikes said. “[But] to me friendship is when you and the other person care for each other and you know they will be there for you and you’ll be there for them, but also someone you can have a good time with and let loose.”

High school can put a strain on friendships, but with much time and effort well spent, alumni Tatum Krueger and Kamryn Blevins prove that teens can have a healthy friendship during high school that can even venture further into college.

“[We made our friendship last through high school by] being open with each other,” Krueger said. “Playing soccer was a huge part in it, but also both of us knowing God had us best friends for a reason is a huge part as well.”

A school in modern days has become filled with paperwork and late-night study hours, and time as a teenager is limited. Many after school activities such as sports and fine arts have taken away time from teens' lives when they’re not buried knee-deep in education.

When you add up all the hour's people are active in everyday life, it seems there are not enough minutes in a day to be able to make a healthy relationship between peers last, though it’s essential to be able to make it through life to be healthy both physically and mentally.

Krueger and Blevins pose for the camera after their high school graduation.

“In high school, you’ll have all types of friends, life long ones, fake ones, ones you’ll only talk to in class, and the ones you might even date and fall in love with,” Blevins said. “ The most important advice I could give for any friendship would be to cherish the moments you have together, be honest, trustworthy, respectful of each other's privacy, and never leave each other upset or mad. Learn from each other and grow together.”