I am proud and elated, yet sad and nostalgic, to say that I am a member of this year's graduating class at Paul D. Schreiber High School. This month marks a somewhat emotional time for my peers and me-one filled with final classes, tests, and farewells. Aside from Gambol and graduation, the last day of school was an event that I looked forward to. I envisioned the final day of classes as a symbolic, yet deeply important experience-as one last time when I could sit at desks alongside my peers, some of whom I would never really see again, and salvage a few last morsels of wisdom from teachers to whom I owe so much gratitude.
Unfortunately, my vision was just too idealistic. This day of closure was underhandedly seized from the Class of 2005 when on Friday, June 10, the day of the first ever senior "fun day" (called S.P.A.N.K. for Senior Prank Alternative for Nice Kids), we found out that our last day of classes would be effectively cancelled. Through letters sent home, we were informed that we were not to "be present in the Campus Drive vicinity or at Schreiber High School on Monday, June 13." For many of us, the rumors circulating all day became a devastating reality, as we realized that our much anticipated last day of classes had actually been on Thursday, the day prior. A sense of disappointment, distress, frustration, anger, and deception resonated throughout our class, as a wide range of students expressed their hurt feelings. My reasons for contending that the administration and staff's final solution was inappropriate relate to both the absence of a true last day of school, and that my classmates and I were deceived by people whom we wholeheartedly respected and trusted.
My first grievance is that my peers and I were indeed deprived of the opportunity to embrace our last day of classes in high school. I admit that Schreiber has meant a great deal to me. I attribute most of my academic successes to my supportive teachers and peers, and the existence of courses and activities which have allowed me to grow as an individual. The administration should have informed us on Wednesday or Thursday that our final day of class would be cancelled. That way, we would have been able to truly savor our last moments at Schreiber.
Unfortunately, this courtesy was far from provided to us, as we were tricked to believe that our last day would remain intact, and that our senior "fun day" was supposed to be merely a gift from the administration and faculty. The first annual S.P.A.N.K. seemed to be a wonderful present from them, indeed. Seniors would forgo their courses to celebrate together outside on the field. I'm sure that to an extent, the administrators did want to provide the seniors with some sort of day through which they could channel any senior prank energy by playing volleyball and sliding down a slip-n-slide. However, this much anticipated day was clearly used as a part of a tactic to distract seniors from finding out that they would not have a final regular day at school-or at least to make us sympathize with the administrators for orchestrating the S.P.A.N.K. The logic which the administrators used seems suitable for young children, not college-bound 18 year-olds. I suppose the acronym, S.P.A.N.K., was indeed a double entendre, as senior day proved to be analogous to a spank used to punish a child.
Not only was S.P.A.N.K. used in a deceptive matter, but the letter sent home to inform our parents of the decision to prohibit us from attending school on Monday was of a similar nature. My first grievance about the letter is that it was not even addressed to students. The greeting, "Dear Parents/Guardians of Class of 2005 Members," implies that the seniors (most of whom are legal-age adults), do not deserve enough respect to be directly informed about an important academic decision. The first paragraph of the letter vaguely mentions that my class is well-accomplished and well-behaved. This introduction serves as an appropriately misleading prelude to the rest of the letter, considering that a punishment is presented under the mask that it is really a reward. Next, the letter explains that seniors deserve to "properly celebrate their many successes" by having our last day of class cancelled. The justification that this day would be an "opportunity for Seniors to ... spend some time with friends and classmates as their high school years come to an end," was also provided. I have a few problems with these statements, as I find them misleading, deceitful, and hypocritical. In light of the administration's emphasis on the importance of adhering to the "state-mandated" 85 percent attendance rule, it seems contradictory that the administration would be quick to cancel not one, but two days of class for seniors (June 10, "S.P.A.N.K. Day," and June 13), some of whom still have exams during Regents week. Secondly, the letter does not address why students were not informed that Thursday, June 9 would be their last day of classes, until Friday, June 10. Furthermore, the administrators knew that despite a typically mediocre second semester attendance record, seniors might wish to be present on their absolute final day of school. The letter suggests that this wonderful class-free day would allow us to spend dwindling time with our friends, but I have had four years to hang out with my friends and I plan to do so throughout the summer. I thought the school faculty was supposed to encourage unity, school spirit, and togetherness among various groups through the Schreiber experience. Since when do administrators cancel school merely to provide time for students to socialize outside of school? They never do. Evidently, the justifications used were untrue, as they merely attempted to appease students.
I realize that the actions taken by the Schreiber administration reflect a concern in senior prank activity, in light of last year's events. However, our class did nothing to suggest that we would consider engaging in such deplorable acts. The only "suspicious activities" which surfaced as the administration's defense were a few blatantly sarcastic posts on an online communications forum used by some students. In our society, people have the right to express themselves to their friends without fearing they will be "caught" and misunderstood for unpopular statements. People should be punished for actions, not thoughts-let alone sarcastic ones which are far from the true intentions of the person who thinks them. The cliché, "two wrongs don't make a right" seems quite applicable to what happened at Schreiber. Sure, students last year (many of whom were not seniors) engaged in inappropriate behavior. However, this does not mean that our class ought to be punished for things beyond our control.
I ask the administrators, what did my class do to deserve such betrayal? I'm sure much thought went into this final solution, and while I appreciated the S.P.A.N.K., I strongly disagree with the way in which our last day of class was cancelled. The fact that we needed proper notification of our last day at Schreiber outweighs the faculty's obsession over potential threats of a non-existent senior prank.