[STAFF EDITORIAL] Inter-grade mixing vital for senior legacies
April 24, 2019
Small class sizes, yearly retreats, and merely spending eight hours a day, five days a week together allows students to really get to know the people in their grade. When it comes to meeting people outside the grade, however, the opportunities are slimmer. Sports teams, theater, and art classes can be good ways to blend the lines that form between each grade, but it doesn’t do enough.
Most students knew almost every upper-class student, at least by name, in their ninth grade year. It’s easier for ninth graders – the upper-class students are their speakers on Friday, their captains on sports teams, their presidents of student clubs and their leads in school productions. Besides, many of the ninth graders look up to the upper-class students as inspiration and role models.
However, upper-class students rarely look to the younger grades with the same admiration or attention. Unless younger students are in extracurricular activities and it’s convenient to get to know them, upper-class students often go through high school without making a real effort to reach out to those who follow them.
Upper-class students are on their way out, and often that mentality affects their reluctance to create bonds with younger students. Besides, age equals wisdom, right? What do upper-class students have to gain from the younger grades? Although on the top of the high school ladder, upper-class students, especially seniors, are about to be the new kids all over again, whether it be in college, in a new workplace, or at an internship. Ninth graders know all about being the new kid. Under-class students are accustomed to getting out of their comfort zones, trying new activities, talking to new people, and admitting that they don’t know everything.
The question lies in whether the current class structures already have a strategy that can work to encourage more inter-grade mingling, or if it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Many would point to the mentorship program that pairs ninth graders with juniors or seniors at the beginning of each school as an attempt to integrate grades. While the intent is there, the mentorship program does little to grow community bonds between grades and often doesn’t encourage individual connections, either. Many may know their mentor or mentee, but not their friends, or their extracurricular social groups.
Perhaps it is not one large program focused on the upper class and under-class connections that this school needs, but rather many little applications to many different programs. Junior and senior English elective classes could make an effort to attend the annual Shakespeare performances presented by the ninth grade class. Advisories with only students of one grade level could reach out to another advisory with a different grade level to do activities. The quiz bowl team can host an event where each team must have a student from each grade, and the questions require information that each grade level has studied that year.
While seniors may be the leaders, the underclass students are the future of the teams, clubs, theater department, and music groups. The community as a whole would greatly benefit from grade mixing because each grade has something to offer to one another; a mentor, a role model, a reminder to be humble, or a friendship. Reaching across grade lines requires students to put aside the rules of seniority to create bonds and leave lasting legacies.
Put self-prestige on the back burner and reach out into the beauty of the entire student body, that’s how seniors leave a legacy–by connecting with each other