At a school that has a reputation for priding itself on college acceptances, why do we not have pride in each other’s college acceptances?
I remember a day last May. My older brother, who attended Sierra Canyon High School, had been accepted to and had chosen to attend Harvard. My family was proud, to say the least. And following suit with the typical spirit found at Sierra Canyon, my family decided to use window paint to write on the car window short phrases including, “Harvard bound!” “Congrats, Class of 2013!” and “We love you, Michael!”
On this day in May, my mom pulled into the school parking lot to pick me up at the end of the day. But as the brightly painted car slowly approached the crowd of students I was standing with, I was mortified. I jumped into the car, threw my backpack in the seat behind me and told my mom to drive away as fast as she could. I did not want anyone to know the car with the writing belonged to me; however, I did not escape fast enough.
Less than 30 seconds had passed before my phone vibrated. I looked down and read the following text from a fellow Harvard-Westlake student: “Wow. Was that your car with all of the Harvard stuff on it? That’s so rude and inconsiderate.”
First I was shocked, then embarrassed, then angry. Was it a crime to be proud of my brother for getting into the school of his dreams? Was it so wrong to want to celebrate his accomplishments and share them with the world? Well, growing up as a student at Harvard-Westlake, I was taught the following answers: yes, it was a crime, and yes, it was wrong.
But why is that the case?
In my opinion, it actually makes perfect sense that our school, students and administrators alike, condemns all outward forms of celebratory expression. We all know the facts: we attend one of the top schools in America; we are taught by some of the most incredible teachers; we are surrounded by students who excel in a variety of different areas – academics, athletics, robotics, the arts – the list goes on forever.
At a school filled with students who are all exceptional in one way or another, it makes sense that we compete for the same spots at the same prestigious colleges or universities. So yes, I understand why this is the case, but I still do not understand why it has to be this way.
Yes, this is a stressful time for everyone. Sophomores are preparing for their first midterms at the Upper School. Juniors, well, it’s junior year. And seniors are just beginning to find out about the long-awaited college acceptances, or for some, the dreaded rejections.
Now is the time for us to have each other’s backs. We can’t just come together as a community in times of tragedy; we must of course unite as one to comfort each other through the hardships but also through times of good fortune.
I am by no means suggesting we not think before we act or that we should disregard the feelings of others; rather, I am urging my classmates to support each other.
We understand what everyone must go through to get that acceptance letter (or in our day… email), and we shouldn’t put each other down for wanting to celebrate success.
Let’s end the resentment we have been known to exhibit. When your friend or classmate gets into college, run over and give them a big hug because when you get your acceptance letter, whatever school it may be from, you’re going to want that same congratulatory hug.
Let’s have pride in each other and in our college acceptances. It’s time we celebrate together.