Sunday, November 27, 2011


            An epidemic is sweeping the senior class.  What started last spring, as a seemingly innocent exploration of sexuality, has become something much more.  The phenomenon at hand is Sophylis: senior guys falling for sophomore girls.  Over the past few months, the numbers have increased exponentially.  First one pair, then two, and now at least half a dozen couplings have occurred.
            How can we explain these recent developments?  A number of factors have most definitely had an effect on this situation; symptoms may vary.  The stem of the problem can be found in the senior class.  Among the affected group, senior guys and girls have grown impatient with the opposite sex, distancing themselves after years of close friendship.  This distancing has created a void, which for the guys, has been easily filled with presence of sophomore counterparts.
            Another substantial factor has been the curiosity of the sophomore girls.  Sophomore year is a time of growth, and these girls are discovering themselves, trying to fit into the social scene.  There is pressure to explore their sexuality and try new things.  After the first successful exploit, other girls realized that they too could pursue their own upperclassman. Conditions remain ideal for fostering more of these relationships, as each party seems to gain equal satisfaction as a result of the liaison.
            The balance of power in a relationship between a sophomore and senior has the potential to be problematic.  A serious, thoughtful relationship is one thing, but pressured flings are something much different.  Necessary precautions must be taken to ensure that no one is unduly hurt in these precarious circumstances.  If a senior and sophomore truly care about each other, and find mutual respect in a relationship, then brilliant, I wish you all the best.  However, seniors, I advise that you take care before delving into the heart of sophomores.  Sophylis is in the air, and there doesn’t seem to be a cure.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Response to "Day of Service"

            Day of Service. It’s the one day each year when you get the opportunity to give back to your community, to help those underprivileged people who you don’t pay attention to the other 364 days. What a noble cause. And look at that, it’s right before Thanksgiving—how perfect. It sounds like a truly great event. And it is, but nothing in this world is as simple as it appears.
            Despite Jake’s enthusiasm for the Day of Service, I see it as a much darker occurrence. Allow me to explain. It’s hyped up to be the day when you have a chance to take place in selfless acts for the benefit of the community. I see no issue with benefitting the community; the problem is with both hyping and selflessness. One half-day of community service does not fulfill your quota for the year. You can’t justify you’ve “given back” after three hours writing greeting cards. The psychology is all wrong. The school acts like it’s such a good thing that we have this day, but the fact that we advertise it as “fun” kind of deflates its significance. People go home afterwards feeling benevolent and satisfied. Sure, you helped, but to really make an impact, it’s gonna take more than a few hours.
            Then there’s the issue of why. Why was this day created? The truth is that it wasn’t created out of necessity, it was created for some other reason. And that makes it almost arbitrary. “Hey, how about, on the day before Thanksgiving break, we have all the kids do community service? It’ll be nice.” That, to me, seems like absolutely the wrong reason to start such a tradition. “We’re being selfless. We’re helping the community.” No, you’re coming in to school and following directions given to you by an adult because that’s what you were told to do. Not to mention, (however clichéd this may be) if you feel good after doing something “selfless”, can’t the case be made that you did it out of self-interest? It seems to be the accursed question of community service, but that’s for another day.
            The Day of Service is not a bad thing, but I question the way it is perceived and what it’s true purpose is. I’m against something that instills a sense of superficial altruism in students. I can’t say, with certainty, that the Day of Service does this, but I ask you to think hard about why you’re actually partaking in it. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day of Service

            Every year at Park, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, we forgo regular classes to participate in a half day of community service.  There are dozens of options, both on and off campus that students can choose to sign up for.  This day provides a nice break from the monotony of classes, and gives us a great opportunity to give back to the community.
            We should be grateful that Park gives them the chance to take off school and make a difference.  Instead, many students choose to just stay home on Day of Service.  They figure it’s a good chance to recuperate, and after all they’re “not missing anything important.”  I personally find this unbelievably selfish.
            I admit that many of the service options are lackluster.  Making sandwiches or picking up trash across campus isn’t exactly my idea of an exciting morning, but that’s not the point.  Even if your participation is negligible in the grand scheme of things, simply skipping out on the Day of Service is not in the spirit of Thanksgiving, or, for that matter, The Park School.
            Our philosophy preaches positive expectations; when students are absent on the Day of Service, teachers assume that they are gone with good reason.  It is true that a lot of kids go away to visit relatives for the holiday.  Meanwhile, other students abuse these positive expectations when they don’t come into school, relying on their teachers and peers to excuse their absence.
            Park students come from all different backgrounds, and everyone has their unique concerns and problems, but something that we all have in common is the luxury of attending a remarkable school.  No matter how we got here, we all share the teachers and resources that compose our school.  So, think twice before you decide to sleep in Wednesday morning.  Is it too much to ask that for just one day a year, we stop thinking about ourselves and take one for the team?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Birds of a Feather

            People tend to arrange themselves in pretty predictable patterns. It’s something that can be observed in almost any setting, not just high school. I was once given an English assignment that asked whether I believed “birds of a feather flock together”, or that “opposites attract”. Hah. Opposites attract? Yeah, sure, if we’re talking magnets or genders. Otherwise, fuck that shit. When’s the last time you thought I need a new friend, but he’s gotta be the complete opposite of me, in every conceivable way, so that we have absolutely nothing in common and no mutual interests? As much as I wouldn’t like to admit it, I associate myself with people who are extremely similar to me, at least at face-value. It’s not because I’m narrow-minded or stubborn or bland (though I may be), that’s just human nature. I want friends who I can make jokes with, play sports with, and do dumb shit with. That isn’t to say those are my only friends—obviously some variety is healthy and necessary—but macrocosmically, we’re inclined to surround ourselves with similar personalities.
We see this principle manifest itself every single day at school. The physical compositions of groups in the hallways, where people eat lunch, where they sit in assembly, are all a result of this default mindset. There’s a reason you can easily put labels on most of the groups in our school, because a couple adjectives can usually sum them up enough to identify the individual members. I used to think Park was above clichés like jocks and nerds. We aren’t. I hesitate in this territory, because I really don’t want to stereotype anyone too heavily, but in essence, that’s what I’m doing. Or rather, not what I’m doing, but what we have done to ourselves. But I digress. Words like jock and nerd are somewhat outdated and misleading, but at their core, we still have the same dichotomy: the kids that are into sports, and the kids that spend more time studying and pursuing academic interests. It’s certainly not a strict dichotomy, however, and there is undoubtedly a significant amount of crossover between the two. My point, though, is that many students would feel comfortable placing themselves in one group or another. Once you have those initial categories, you can split them into even more sublevels. And those final groupings are often your “friends”. There are so many other categories than just the athletes and the intellectuals, but they follow the same concept. I’m simply drawing the connection between common characteristics and friend groups.
So you get it, blah blah, my friends are exactly like me, etc. What’s the problem with that? There isn’t one, I’d say. But, but, we need to integrate! you plead. I acknowledge the reasoning for variety, and I definitely agree. I would get bored of my friends if they were clones of me, too. I’m not really arguing anything here, but rather attempting to rationalize the tendencies of students at Park. There are kids in my grade who I’m fairly confident I have never had a direct conversation with. That’s kind of sad, but at the same time entirely understandable. The reason why, quite bluntly, is that I share minimal similarities with those people. I still respect them as individuals, appreciate their unique personalities, and will treat them with utmost courtesy and decency. We are just inherently different people, and there is no reason to force a relationship that disobeys natural instincts.
I love the fact that there are groups at our school. We’re like a collection of distinct, little families that interact and learn collaboratively in an academic environment. We have friends from other families, too, and sometimes we’re even members of two or three families. Social clustering is not a bad thing, it’s a natural thing. It can turn vicious when the families start becoming exclusive or aggressive, but as a fundamental idea, there’s nothing wrong with it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


            Critique is imperative in the writing process.  That said, there is a right way to do it and there is a wrong way.  While I’d tend to agree that a writing workshop in English class isn’t always the most effective method of feedback (Praise, Polish, and Question is a little cutesy for my taste), there is still something about the notion of respectful comments that I find attractive.
            When I submit an article to the school newspaper, even if I’ve done a terrible job, the editors still take the time to meet with me personally and discuss any necessary revisions.  Don’t get me wrong; their comments are often harsh and pointed, yet, they have the decency to tell me what I’m doing wrong and try their best to help me fix it.
            Writing for the blog is quite different.  By posting, I am opening up my thoughts and opinions to the scrutiny of the public.  I love that pressure, in fact, I yearn for it, but what really bother me are anonymous comments.  Anonymous: without a name, without pride, without dignity.  Anonymous comments are safe.  They don’t sacrifice your self-image.  Anonymity allows anyone to take on any opinion they choose without having to worry about the repercussions.
            Here is my plea to all of our readers.  I am extremely grateful for your continued allegiance to Student Parking Only, especially since the consensus seems to be that my posts have been pretty lousy as of late.  If anyone has suggestions, queries, or ideas of any sort, I’d love to hear them.  Send in a piece and I’d be glad to post it.  In the end, no one’s going to remember that anonymous comment you wrote.  On the other hand, if you’re brave enough to put your name out there with your ideas and write a decent post, they might just remember you.