The New “Bench”mark

Comments on the Senior Privilege Discussion


YeJin On

Credits: Paula Somoza and YeJin On

Unfortunately, these last couple days of August were marred by the school’s first conflict of interests. To those who are unfamiliar with what occurred, I will summarize it briefly: at the start of the school year, maintenence returned some extra benches from the senior lawn to the rest of the high school. Certain seniors then placed the blame on the juniors, and, in the following days, the administration became involved. What began as, quite honestly, a petty conflict over some benches became the trigger to a latent concern of many: senior privileges. On one hand, the seniors argue that they deserve their privileges, be it some benches or the lawn as a whole, as they feel the chance to be respected is being taken away from them. On the other, the administration argues that the establishment of these privileges, even informally, promotes behavior contrary to the school’s message of community and inclusion.


There was a meeting of the senior class, organized by the STUCO president, and, as a senior, I was summoned to participate. No words can voice how ashamed I was to be there, to take part in this meeting and this class. The disbelief that students were seriously considering placing a sign to keep people off the lawn was apparent amongst too few of those present. The proposal was asking to, effectively, wall off the lawn, to literally make it a Senior Lawn and shut ourselves off from the rest of the school. The argument was that through the years the seniors have always been seen, and treated, with respect, and so the tradition must be kept. Every subsequent senior class would take up that mantle, to maintain the tradition of senior privileges, even if that meant marginalizing the other grades.


The senior privilege was a point of identity to many, representing everything that senior year was meant to be: the last year of high school, a position as role models for the grades below, and the pride of making it this far. The privilege is meant to add prestige to the title of a senior by placing him/her above others. Should this privilege even exist? When the school’s whole code hinges on a system benefiting all, should a minority be allowed to foist their will upon others? If so, then should the school code change to better reflect such ideal? If this is the kind of school people want to be in, then why stay at Graded? Yes it is true that, traditionally, seniors in American schools are given a common area for themselves alongside other informal privileges over their underclassmen. However, keep in mind that ‘traditionally,’ college students are hazed in order to be admitted to fraternities, a practice that has even resulted in deaths. So what’s the point? An argument built upon an appeal to tradition is a fallacy, no matter how passionate we are on the subject. I do not condemn these people, nor the groups they represent. I greatly respect their efforts and dedication in what they believe in, however, there are clearly double standards at play.


In the end, add a bench, add two, who cares? To add two or three benches is innocent enough in the grand scheme of things, but it is what we do with the benches that matters. The administration built into the concept of “one school, one community, one Graded,” encouraging students to coalesce into an actual community. Ironic really, that the school promotes a community built upon unity, yet the senior class chooses to unite under segregation of all other grades. When the cry from inclusion was voiced, the class dug its heels and resisted, relying on tradition to excuse its desire for superiority. If it’s the respect for seniors the class wants, then consider the possibility that respect must be earned, just as the privileges.

let not The Class of 2017 become a badge of shame to carry,

— Lucca Oliveira

Teachers are calling us juvenile under their breaths, they look at the class and assume the whole thinks that way. Is this the way we wish to be remembered? I understand the frustration behind it all, it seems that whenever there is a change in the system, our class receives the brunt of the blow. As Michael, the STUCO president mentioned at the meeting, “changes happen.” Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to give up on something of great personal value. I urge my fellow seniors, let not The Class of 2017 become a badge of shame to carry, let us carry that with pride, pride in knowing we had the privileges, and we gave them up for the greater good. It’s about time we act our age, to give up on an outdated system in favor for a legacy we can look back to with satisfaction.