We the students

We the students have a message for the administration in light of recent events.

Conference time on December 8 was taken up by a induction assembly. This one seemed to particularly pique student frustrations and anger after what had been a string of contradictory messages from the administration: Celebrate these accomplishments, but not those ones, let’s have an assembly for this, but not for that. Shared ownership, as coined by the administration, seems to have simply become an excuse for certain individuals, particularly those charged with “building community”, to drive down students’ throats what they had cherry-picked as being important to recognize, or more prestigious for the school to flaunt.

That morning, the assembly attempted to celebrated 51 students being inducted into an organization, the National Honor Society (NHS), whose main requisite is having a grade point average of 3.6 or higher.

At various points throughout the assembly, sarcastic clapping and enthusiasm could be heard from some of the students in attendance. A last-ditch, although admittedly juvenile, effort was meant to force the administration to recognize student frustration, when some students felt desperately as if they had no other ways to express themselves.

Our criticism is not directed towards the NHS, nor their induction ceremony – no, every part of the assembly was common tradition for the umbrella organization –, our criticism censures what this impromptu assembly represents for the students: A severe disconnect between the administration and the student body.

The perception being communicated to students is that we are inorganically elevating the NHS as opposed to other organizations within the school. The natural response is anger: It seems to students that the school is attempting to fabricate something of us, even an image of us, that is ingenuine and rather contemptuous of the talent, effort and drive actually present in our community.

We understand this was not the administration’s motive. But this begs the question, what was the motive? A lot of what we have perceived, we believe, was not the intention, but would that not point towards a more pervasive failure by the administration this year: Proficient communication?

If you want to change and mold us, as any educational institution should, it won’t be with an autocratic, top-down movement. The question we pose lies not in whether we support the community initiative, which we wholeheartedly do, what we deem to be erroneous is the method with which the administration has gone forward in “building” this community. The removal of captain speeches, the removal of departmental awards, the alteration of baby photos: There must be some motive behind the elimination of integral traditions of this high school, yet it seems to have been lost behind closed doors. We, as students and an Editorial Board, are left to question with deep frustration: What is happening?

Yes, you are in charge of this school, but, yes, this is our school.

Shared ownership is a wonderful concept. However, from the student’s point of view it seems like a license to pick and choose what the administration wants to highlight. Perhaps the NHS is a prestigious group, but does it require the attention of the entire High School to celebrate such a narrow demographic? Doesn’t this logic run bull-headedly counter to the one applied to the Senior Baby Photo assembly, that it only celebrates the senior class (who number 123, exactly 72 more than NHS inductees)?

To put it into context: The week before, Principal Jack Phillips’ decision to remove the Senior Baby Photo assembly was met by its fair share of criticism from the student body. In a meeting with senior Student Council representatives, he cited the fact that the Baby Photo assembly only celebrated a select group of students and not the entire high school, and perhaps so, but this decision should not have been some sort of autocratic handout – it should have been opened to discussion and ultimately communal decision.

With that, this Editorial Board proposes a simple and agonizingly easy solution. When all is said and done, we genuinely believe that both the student body and the administration have the same goals, harboring a community filled with eager, driven students drawn in by traditions. There are countless ways to implement this. Town halls, organized by the students, inviting Phillips to come talk to the students and answer questions as well as an established weekly blog on The Standard’s website for frequent updates from the administration are only two of many ways to implement this. So, let’s talk: Let’s organize the town hall, let’s host that weekly blog, let’s inform each other.

The decisions, ultimately, will not be the administration’s nor the students’, they will be the School’s. Everything moving forward would be informed, it will meet little to no resistance, the sole cost being an extra step of bureaucracy.

Moving forward, nurturing a great relationship requires both parties to work together. Let’s give the administration the room to operate without criticism, but let’s be part of the discussions. Was there really a need for the intense anger fueled by the baby photo assembly cancellation? We, the students, need to give the administration a chance. We, the students, need to understand that not every decision is going to go our way and that, however much we may want it, the High School is not a democracy. We, the students, need to look at changes from the lens of the administration, to think more positively and to allow this school to fulfill its full potential.

No one is here to undermine the other’s experience. Our final goal is a greater ASL, perhaps not immediately for us, but for the future. Let’s end the stigma of the students fighting against the administration. Let’s unite and work together for the ASL we all want.