By Alex Pearl ’10
Underclassmen, have you looked forward to becoming a senior and wielding ultimate authority over those younger than you?
You may never get the chance.
Those who have happened to read the New York Times magazine lately or seen the relevant article will already know what I’m talking about – consideration has been given to the erasure of senior year.
According to the article, a legislator in Utah suggested removing the 12th grade as a measure “to shave millions from the cash-strapped state’s expense sheet.”
The writer of the article, Walter Kirn, who also wrote the book-turned-film, “Up in the Air,” then went on to make several rather stinging recollections of senior year, such as its educational stagnation as a result of college admissions and the empty-headedness of seniors themselves.
Kirn said that the “do-little sabbatical” of senior year would be better spent as an interim between junior year and college.
The gap would allow overworked kids a chance to breathe in a time that would otherwise be spent working on schoolwork that wouldn’t matter in the long run and let kids that would goof off anyway blow off some steam.
I’d give Kirn the allowance that getting rid of a year of high school in every school around the country would indeed slacken the noose of the national budget, in theory, but I would argue against his views on senior year.
Sure, I can’t count how many times I’ve heard my classmates drone about their trepidation towards high school and their excitement for it to end, but I’ve definitely been given more freedom with my schedule in senior year than I have been in any other.
I was given a chance to take a Creative Writing class along with my English class due to my built-up credits, and got a chance to learn about something that I actually want to do.
One could argue this freedom could be moved back to junior year, but it is arguable that making junior year into the new senior year would only replicate the mental stagnation issue that Kirn is attempting to address.
One could even argue that eliminating senior year would do this anyway, a sentiment with which Mr. John Damaso ’97 agreed.
On the subject of senior-year fatigue, Mr. Damaso said that he sees the effect of the fatigue garnered from three years in high school and that as teachers, “we create that.”
Mr. Damaso said that he would not be entirely against a junior-year graduation if the interim period were used to travel or perform some sort of service before heading off to college, but also said that a lot of the issue hinged on maturity.
Contrary to Kirn’s beliefs, students asked about getting rid of senior year replied negatively.
“High school is a time where we define who we are,” said Andrew Long ’10. “Senioritis would just become junioritis.”
Chris Herbst ’11 strongly disagreed as well, saying, “I know I’m going to do stuff senior year.”
Concerning the interim period between junior year and college, he stated, “If there’s senioritis at that point in time, you’re probably not going to use the time finding a job or doing a social project.”
Although the idea doesn’t seem to have gained favor with the general populace, it’s still out there. Progressive thought, whether harmful or helpful, has turned its gaze to high school.
Whether follow-through will occur can only be determined with time.