by Eva Midura, Staff Writer, October 2021
The ascent to Class I is highly anticipated by nearly all students during their high school career. At Nobles especially, students look forward to a variety of exciting senior traditions and privileges that signify an exciting promotion in the school hierarchy. Freshman are relegated to the alcoves farthest down in Shattuck, and dispersed throughout the corners of library, while seniors enjoy the spacious area Gleason provides in the center of Shattuck, and the section of large tables and comfy chairs on the left side of the library, with easy access to the board games and sunlight that floods in through the floor to ceiling windows. Additionally, seniors get to participate in hacky sack, the coveted group game that underclassmen look forward to playing as Class I students, and have priority over the use of spikeball nets and four square balls.
The school holds rigorous academic and athletic expectations, and additionally, many students are actively engaged by leading clubs and organizations or working closely with the administration and teachers. After three to five years of attending Nobles, many seniors believe they have earned the right for their ideas and opinions on certain aspects of the school to be considered, many of which pertain to said traditions and privileges. Abigail Roberts (Class I) said, “I think traditions are really important because as you grow into new classes and go through Nobles, it’s so exciting to have those checkpoints to mark the grade you just entered.”
One such tradition that contributes to some controversy with the administration is senior pictures. Every year, class photos are taken and used for material in the directory, hung up around school, and shown in the yearbook. Almost every year, seniors look to put a fun twist on their pictures by wearing something out of the ordinary through accessories or props. In past years, students have worn turtle necks, large hoop earrings, or funny hats. This year, many seniors attempted to wear “Harry Potter” glasses and draw small lightning bolt scars on their foreheads, however this operation was quickly shut down.
Reasons that the administration has cited for the censorship of what students can or cannot wear for picture day have ranged from sensitivity around inclusivity to cultural appropriation. However, this year’s seniors made sure that students had the opportunity to participate by providing glasses and the attire was not offensive in any way. Thus, consequently, the administration presented a different reason for not permitting the seniors to wear accessories. “Class photos are placed outside Head of School Dr. Cathy Hall’s office and represent the senior class to prospective students. Not taking these photos seriously causes problems as we have to make kids redo photos, and it costs money and time Head of Upper School Michael Denning said. Most students didn’t understand this objection as their parents paid for their school pictures and wanted a fun memory for their kids. Roberts said, “If I saw the seniors being funny in their class pictures, I would immediately think this is an atmosphere where the students can excel and work hard, but also have fun.” The school strives to be a place that pushes students to meet and exceed high academic standards, while also giving opportunities during class time, school events, and assembly to have fun with themselves and each other. Therefore, it seems it would be more representative of the school for prospective students to see pictures where the upperclassmen demonstrate that environment.
Other traditions that the 2022 senior class has missed include rushing the senior section on the last day of junior year. This is a long-awaited tradition that represents the transition from Class II to Class I and is celebrated by the entire school with music, fun performances, and costumes. Roberts said, “[It] makes you feel as though you’re part of something bigger.” As COVID-19 restrictions didn’t permit this tradition to happen last year, seniors looked forward to streaming into the senior section of Lawrence Auditorium on the first day of school. However this was quickly shut down by the administration. When asked why the seniors and faculty couldn’t try to work an arrangement out, Denning said, “Many of our traditions happen at a particular time and place. As a result, some traditions are only possible, like rushing the senior section, when it’s at a specific time and place in the year—the last day of school at the end of the year when the graduates are gone.”
While it is conceivable why seniors feel disappointed about missing out on certain traditions that they have been looking forward to, the reasons the administration has provided aren’t adequate. Reasons explaining how COVID-19 policies and the safety of our community are the priority, even if it means sacrificing traditions, are understood. However, due to this frustration, some seniors believe their voices and ideas should be listened to more and hope to discover ways Nobles can compensate for their losses. “Even as class presidents, Mary and I don’t truly have any executive power, and we may come to the administration with ideas, but the vast majority get rejected,” Sid Balu (Class I) said. This demonstrates how seniors are willing to work with administration to make sure both faculty and students are working together to create the most valuable experience for the class of ‘22, especially after the past couple years have cost them many deserved opportunities.