Although many teachers’ views on this matter have evolved over the years, I still believe that excellence should be recognized. This senior class has, to my knowledge, surpassed all previous classes (including my own) by every metric that the school uses to measure success.
As perhaps no one is surprised to hear, this year’s “skip day” was even more successful than last year’s ditch day. On my last count, 265 of the 292 members of the senior class were absent (which, at 90 percent, was a better performance than my test averages), though I am debating about whether to include those seniors whose duties compelled them to be on campus that day.
At the risk of incurring the ire of my colleagues, there is something that I would like to address. Although the modern relationship between students and faculty is one that tends towards collegiality, I do think that something has been lost in the move away from the somewhat more adversarial relationship of years past.
You may have noticed that I referenced skip day as opposed to ditch day. While I initially thought that the seniors coordinating a ditch day with the administration was courteous, it does feel like something has been lost. Ditch day is supposed to do more than cause a little grumbling amongst the faculty: it is supposed to be annoying, inconvenient and disruptive. It is a day when the seniors make their presence felt by their absence.
It is a day when the seniors gleefully push (perhaps with a twinge of guilt) at the institutions which have controlled their lives for 12 years. And it is a day that these institutions respond to by pushing back and reminding students that they are not quite free by saddling “ditchers” with detention—the first detention for many, the last detention for most before they leave this community on a hill.
While detention is a punishment, there is something magical about the ditch day detention. There is positive energy in the air that day. There is a camaraderie that arises from this shared experience, from the final act of rebellion where all the “ditchers” show up to detention in Hawaiian shirts with beach balls.
A little rebellion is a healthy thing. It is not easy to take a chance and stand up for what you believe in, and although there are some very outspoken students on this campus, they are relatively few and far between. Ditch day may be a selfish endeavor for students to stand up for; however, it is a siren’s call which attracts students, and I think that there is something to be gained by having a little taste of rule-breaking before they go. Although it may seem nice to have no consequences for skip day this year, I can’t help but wonder what has been lost by this change.