Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: combination of Coachella, Senior Ditch Day contributes to record low attendance

Sophie Haber

One-hundred-twenty students missed school after Coachella on April 17, exceeding the number of absences in recent history.

Upper School Attendance Coordinator Gabriel Preciado said this year’s absences were slightly higher than in the past due to the combination of Coachella and senior ditch day, as well as the fact that it fell the day after spring break, which he said usually correlates with more absences.

The amount of detentions served due to Coachella-related absence have increased from only 63 detentions served in 2014 and 110 served last year, Preciado said.

In 2013, former Head of Upper School Audrius Barzdukas created the “Own It” policy that encourages students to take responsibly and tell the school they are missing after attending Coachella rather than making up an excuse. Students then must serve one detention, which can range from helping a teacher set up a lab to cleaning up the quad.

“Coachella is frowned upon for many reasons,” Preciado said. “Teachers prepare so much for their instruction, so we really expect students to come in and take advantage of their Harvard-Westlake education.”

Prior to this policy, students could be excused the day after Coachella.

In the 2011-2012 school year, 180 students were absent but no detentions were served. Preciado said that while he understands students need time to unwind, his main concern is students’ safety, especially with regard to driving.

“When I see students aren’t here during the Coachella time, it makes me feel uneasy,” Preciado said. “The more students I see here, the better I feel.”