Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Senior Skip Day


            Yesterday marked the recurrence of an annual event that takes place not only at the Park School but at high schools across the country.  Yesterday was our Senior Skip Day.  It’s not a date that can be found on the Upper School calendar, and it’s not even the same day every year, but it is a tradition that has been going on for a good while.  At this point, Senior Skip Day is pretty widely accepted as a normal happening, something to be expected.
            The idea is simple; one spring day the seniors sleep in, skip class, and go do something fun together.  This year we decided to go to Oregon Ridge for a tranquil afternoon hanging out in the beautiful park.  A vast majority of the grade was in attendance, and it was a nice way to spend one of our last days together as a class.
            It was only after school hours that things began to go awry.  For most, the day went as planned; we left Oregon Ridge and continued on with our lives.  For the senior boys’ lacrosse players, it was not such a pleasant experience.  They arrived at practices promptly only to be informed that the Athletic Department had received notice of the players’ absence from classes and they would therefore be unable to partake in practice.  Moreover, the team rule is that if players fail to practice the day before a game, they are penalized by having to sit on the bench for the entire first quarter of the game the following day.
            Of course this is just one example of a Senior Skip Day mishap.  It is no secret that many faculty members have serious reservations with the annual holiday.  Some teachers have even been known to give tests or big assignments intentionally scheduled for that day.  I understand why teachers would have qualms with the tradition; however, I sometimes question how teachers portray their opinions about the day.  Many are okay with it and simply ask that students are caught up on the homework, but others take it to an extreme.
            As far as I heard, the Athletic Department’s decision to ban lacrosse players from practice was hinged on complaints from teachers who reported the absences.  Perhaps the course of action would be acceptable, except none of the other students received such treatment.  In fact, the varsity baseball players were all allowed to practice with no questions asked.  Meanwhile, seniors went off to play rehearsals and mock trial practices and not a word was said.  Yet, for some reason, the lacrosse players were punished for partaking in a class-wide event.
            In the end, Senior Skip Day is something that is going to happen no matter what the teachers, administration, or even coaches do about it.  The argument here is not about whether or not the day should take place; it is about how we deal with it.  I’d like to think that at a place like Park, teachers would look out for their students and give them the benefit of the doubt.  It seems anal to look down upon seniors for skipping a day of classes to hang out with just 2 weeks remaining in their high school career.  Sure athletes could have come into school at 1 o’clock, showed up at their last class, undoubtedly empty of students, and gone to practice, but, does that really sound more meaningful than spending a gorgeous day outside at a park with their classmates?
            So I guess my last point is really directed at the faculty; after all, you guys are the ones who make this community what it is.  Please don’t fret over Senior Skip Day.  It’s not going anywhere.  By punishing students the damage is simply twofold.  Right or wrong, it’s one day.  So let it happen, or if not, at least don’t discriminate when lashing out consequences.  As students, that’s all we can ask for.