By Shiva Peri
Senior trip, senior spirit week, senior skip day, senior portraits, senior prom, senior prank, and most notorious of all, ‘senioritis.’ In this article, I wish to explore whether this cult of seniority is a warranted sense of accomplishment, or an irrational excuse for blatant irresponsibility.
Personally, I never understood much of senior culture. For example, I did not get a Disney bag because, as many of my friends, such as Kelly Orr, can now attest, they fall apart.
Orr, however, still stands by her choice of a Powerpuff Girls backpack and justifies it because it is fun: “I don’t think as a senior you necessarily have to be getting a Disney bag, I think it’s just fun to get a little kid’s backpack.”
While a backpack is relatively harmless, I do not share the pride in being a senior. I did not understand why simply getting older should be rewarded. John Vanderslice, on the other hand, associates seniority with respect:
“As seniors, we get extremely lazy and we tend to have days like senior-skip days … we also take seniority as a big thing… [when it comes to choosing] … seats in the lunchrooms and on the buses.”
However, my outlook shifted from December (when I was initially going to write this article) until now as I was writing this article and conversing with fellow seniors about life.
A major motivation for the rise of seniority is a shift in responsibilities. Suddenly, school and grades matter less and one’s future after high school takes precedence. The college application process, for example, affects the lives of seniors in many ways.
During the autumn months, many seniors struggle to finish writing supplemental essays, to secure letters of recommendation, to meet all college deadlines, and to maintain their academics. The time between application submission and decision day puts many in an uncomfortable position of uncertainty. The road ahead is no longer clear because the right decisions concerning one’s future depend on the individual circumstances.
During this period of uncertainty, many seniors join the cult of seniority and, understandably, seek temporary solace in dreaming of Disney, of senior prom, and most notably, of graduation. In fact, this anticipation is not even limited to seniors.
Larry Tsai, currently a junior, testifies to his excitement for this time period: “I am excited for senior year … [The beginning] … that’s all the college apps, that’s what I’m not looking forward to. … I’m looking forward to the last two months of senior year, when you're doing nothing.”
Keeping the understandability of this temperament in mind, seniority manifests in many ways. Examples include arriving late to school, skipping classes, procrastination, poor academic performance, and a general attitude of care-free-ness.
However, one must draw a line between reasonable extensions of seniority, such as senior spirit week, and unreasonable ones, such as blatant academic decline in the name of seniority. The reason I draw this line is twofold: firstly, seniors are to be the exemplar students who represent Council Rock North. Championing poor academics and general irresponsibility sets a low bar for underclassmen.
Secondly, seniors should strive for an ideal graduation. Graduating should be like a victory lap. While nearly all seniors will receive their diplomas, only a minority may see how rewarding it is to earn their diplomas. Thus, perhaps seniors might consider adopting responsibilities, even if that responsibility is not obligatory, in order to reach that goal in way you can be proud of.
Both the positive and negative aspects of the cult of seniority have a major impact on both the lives of teachers (particularly period 1 teachers) and students themselves.
Mr. Biglan, who teaches AP Art History during first period, notes, “The juniors are always on time. We have a little loophole so if it’s 7:38, I’ll allow [seniors] to come in then. Otherwise they have to have a pass. … [For example] today we had a test and a couple kids came in late, so they’re obviously missing part of the test and that affects them more than me, but it’s disruptive. I wouldn’t call [seniors] lazier, but they are getting excited about the end of the school year.”
Perhaps this lateness is a result of seniors driving to school with variable traffic and the seniors find fun in the excuse of seniority. However, seniors slacking in the name of seniority is not exclusive to period one.
Mrs. Storlazzi, who teaches AP calculus BC (arguably one of the most difficult courses in the school), offers some perspective: “In my class, you can’t slack off or you won’t pass the AP Exam. I have a golden prize of eight college credits … The seniors I have are always in calculus … so even if they slacked off, they’re all sending me thank-you notes and I’m-sorry notes the year later … I always tried to make [students] see value in what they’re doing right now and how it would set them up for success in college.”
This point addresses the crux of why I fail to understand seniority; senior year in high school is not the end of anything but high school. Life will not get any easier.
Senior culture is an inseparable and inevitable aspect of senior year. In my opinion, the hackneyed advice that “everything is good in moderation” is applicable to senior culture. Seniors should enjoy their senior year, but to a reasonable extent.