Get on the boat

By Sam Adams

A couple of weeks ago, a rumor spread that The Chronicle was writing an incendiary story about the Fanatics and their sportsmanship or lack thereof.

Several people came up to me asking whether it was true, whether we were actually out to get the Head Fanatics in trouble with the administration. For the record, at no point was that the case, and we here at The Chronicle do not consider ourselves in the business of blindsiding students.

Last year I wrote a piece in these very pages fretting about the lack of unity in the rising (now current) senior class.

The scene was set for a very divided year, with participation in student government elections at a record low and groups of students growing more distinct and distant from each other.

Flash back to Homecoming 2009.

There, were the requisite carnival rides, Japanese sodas and floods of seventh graders that mark every year’s festivities.

The fans stood in solidarity with the water polo team during a heartbreaking loss in the final few minutes.

After an upset victory over Alemany, we celebrated with our football team—literally, when a sea of students in red Fanatics shirts descended upon Ted Slavin Field as time expired.

It was a moment documented elsewhere in this issue, but the electricity of it was one of those rare times when I found myself most proud to be a member of this class and this school.

In that crowd, though, no one was wearing the black and red robes of the prefecture. No one was worrying about the Community Council event they had to plan, or the weekend workload to support their six-AP schedule.

It didn’t matter where you sit in the quad, where you are applying early or just how many extracurriculars you’ve managed to cram into your life. The only identifying characteristic of the mass was school pride and a sense of togetherness, not just among the individual classes but of the school as a whole.

In the first week of my English class last year, our teacher made us board a metaphoric boat, a sort-of Mayflower on the journey through American literature that we would be taking as a group.

It seemed like nothing more than a silly symbolic gesture at the time, but it’s something that has stuck with me in the year or so since it happened.

Though I’m sure there is now a new, younger crew on the S.S. Ms. Wheelock Period 5, I have realized that all of us here are—pardon the cliché—all in the same boat.

Sometimes we get too caught up in our own lives, too absorbed in what we do to stop and rush the field every once in a while, to remember that at the end of the day we are all going through the unique experience, for better or worse, that is Harvard-Westlake.

In my five years at the two campuses of this school, I’ve noticed that people start to get defensive about what they do here, and are often quick to disparage other activities.

The inherent competitiveness and ambition of the students that Harvard-Westlake attracts could be partly responsible. But the drive to run faster or score higher or otherwise improve ourselves in what we do does not need to come at the expense of our peers. This is not a zero-sum game.

Just as The Chronicle isn’t out to attack the Fanatics, so too should we students refrain from rashly denouncing other activities.

Maybe the student section at games could be more receptive to the chants started by the cheerleaders. Maybe someone who trashes the idea of Peer Support could try it out for a meeting.

Maybe we could participate in an event sponsored by Community Council, not because we need to get our community service requirement out of the way but because some of our fellow students spent a lot of time putting it all together.

The Chronicle may have, in the past, criticized student groups, but we make it a point to not bash for bashing’s sake.

Sure, it is unsportsmanlike when students chant mean things from the stands at sports games. And yeah, it’s a bit rude at volleyball games to shout the names of boys with whom opposing team-members have been amorously involved.

It makes us seem boorish, and the administration is right to do what it can to halt that kind of behavior.

But from where I’m standing, in the student section, I’d rather see us take out that competitive energy on someone deserving — in this case, anybody who has the audacity to challenge us in sports.

When it comes down to it, we’re all in it together. We’re all under the same banner, and we’ll all walk across the same platform at graduation. So let’s try to cut the internal bashing.

In the grand scheme of things, none of it is really consequential. As long as we beat Loyola, that is.