Creating a community we can all support

A school is not only a place to thrive and develop but a place to remember and to cherish, somewhere in which you not only find yourself, but also find others and, more importantly, a sense of belonging. That belonging, as experience will point out, is a byproduct of an inclusive and enjoyable community; one that we, as a school, and not only the administration or faculty, must define and cultivate.

School is not a day job, and that’s what the administration-backed community building plan is trying to ensure and establish.

The relatively new tenure of Principal Jack Phillips has almost exclusively been synonymous with the school’s new community initiative. New events, new philosophies, new positions – sometimes averse to change, it’s hard for the student body and faculty alike to see ASL change so drastically, but furthermore, change so drastically without the sense of shared ownership.

The initiative insofar, to be blunt, has been met with its fair share of mockery and cynicism – a practice that Phillips ironically condemned at the High School’s first assembly. Admittedly, members of The Standard’s Editorial Board were amongst these cynics, often wholeheartedly disagreeing with some of the methods used in trying to achieve this higher community. But today we nonetheless preach the same message: We need to build a community, but if we are going to do it, we must do it the right way – together.

Anger and protest aside, a critical and holistic look at the purpose of the initiative renders it quite ignorant to say we would be better off without an improved community. The clues are there to indicate that we do not have the most intimate of high schools. The typical depiction of our High School is students split up into cliques, content to form an impermeable social bubble around themselves. The recent Yik Yak craze only emboldened how willing we were to degrade one another behind each others’ backs.

At times, we need a little more school spirit. And some students do need to learn to treat each other better. But to say that to fix these issues we need a complete culture change is erroneous and misleading.

As an Editorial Board we believe that community is an edifice we can only build together, where the presence of individuals can account for each demographic and niche of the high school – not superficial initiatives that further alienate students from community.

The Back-to-School Bash can only be described as a major success. That was because all of us, students, faculty, and administration, came together and had some fun on a Friday evening by choice. We were not forced to sit awkwardly with our Alternatives group members on the first day of school; we were not forced to go on stage and “celebrate learning”; we were able to enjoy each others’ company in a natural, comfortable setting.

As students, we need to realize that things aren’t perfect. Not everyone is content at ASL and not everyone has the sorts of social interactions that we would like. We have to understand that things can change for the better for everyone, as long as we work towards a common goal.

The most important message, though, is for the administration. As an Editorial Board, we cannot support a forcefully imposed culture change that enlines with the elementary mentality that the adults, and only the adults, know best. It is time to put away this arrogance. Time and again have we proved capable of displaying the required maturity, and if not, well, perhaps it is time to be given the opportunity to learn.

So simply put: Include students in the process. Tell us what the plan is and how you want to achieve it, let us advise you, let us help you. Let us communicate with you.

Let’s work together for a more intimate community by working side by side with communication going back and forth. It’ll be much easier to work with us than against us.

the_standard@asl.org