Seniors, use your free time

At this time of year, we, the members of the senior class, get bored. Our APs have ended, our schedules are empty and our brains go to mush. We come to school when we feel like it and have nothing to do but sit in the quad. So that’s exactly what we do.

We sit and sit and sit and sit until we’re sick of sitting. Then we sit some more.

Instead of just sitting some more, we should do something meaningful with this time. The transition period between high school and college is a really important time in all of our lives, and the school should encourage seniors to take some time to reflect, to take a step back from their own lives and to think about what they value and what they want out of life.

That reflection could come in the form of an open-ended senior capstone project, like those students do at Brentwood and Wildwood, for which students could do almost anything they want. It could come in the form of a sincere, thoughtful written reflection, possibly similar to the junior year personal essay.

If teachers were willing, the school could even offer small, fun free-form discussion seminars. Teachers and students could come up with initial topics of discussion, but there would be no limits to how the conversations would flow. The sole goal of the seminars would be to allow teachers and students to talk, to connect and to think.

We must make it clear that we do not endorse forcing an incredibly time-consuming project on any senior. We do deserve a break. This is the end of six years of hard work, and it is not only nice but important to, for once, be able to spend time with friends, catch up on sleep and let all of our stresses fade away.

That’s why these projects should be optional and open-ended. Seniors should be able to put as much or as little time into them as they choose. Some will get really into it. Others won’t even participate at all. And that’s OK. But the school does have a responsibility to encourage some healthy reflection.

And even if students aren’t interested in doing something intellectual, maybe the school could promote communal activities, things that bring the senior class together. While planning should remain in the hands of students, the school should facilitate the organization of senior dodgeball tournaments, community service trips, and other fun activities.

There are only about two weeks left in the Harvard-Westlake experience for the current senior class, so it’s too late for us to adopt most of these ideas. But it’s not too late for us to embrace the spirit of those ideas. In the next two weeks, class of 2011, do some exploring and do some thinking.

Do something new or interesting or thought-provoking. Go audit a class you were always interested in but never had the chance to take. Think about what matters to you. Think about what doesn’t matter to you. Maybe even write a bit. And on the last day of classes, come to the quad to celebrate the final moments of your high school career. We and the rest of the senior class will be there. You should be too.