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Senior Cut Day: Is There a Better Way to Celebrate?

stpatricksFor the past four years, high school seniors have stumbled into class at 8:05 AM, ready to learn whether they wanted to or not. On the morning of March 17, many seniors decided that they did not want to learn, and never did show up to class. It was senior cut day -- a rich tradition that usually falls on St. Patrick's Day when many seniors choose not to attend school.

Plans for the day vary. However, the most common activity is going to the St. Patrick's Day parade. Every year on St. Patrick's Day, seniors get dressed up in green and join the usual morning commuters at the Scarsdale train station.

Given the parade's reputation as being the epicenter of drunks and chaos, many parents, teachers, and administrators were concerned about students' safety. Scarsdale High School Principal Kenneth Bonamo sent out an email prior to the cut day in which he explained that the school doesn't condone the cutting. He encouraged students to steer away from the parade and wrote, "There is a widespread perception that St. Patrick's Day is 'senior cut day' and that seniors are excused from their academic and extra-curricular obligations. That is not the case ... We are concerned about the opportunity to engage in risky behavior, most notably underage drinking, that the parade presents."

In his email, Bonamo echoed many parents' concerns. However, the effect on student's choices may not have been as strong as he desired. "He was just doing his job. I don't think it changed anyone's mind or affected anyone's decision," shared senior Brian Leff.

Perhaps more potent than Bonamo's email in deterring students from cutting, however, were threats from teachers. Some teachers were more accepting towards cutting than others. Tough teachers chose to give heavily weighted quizzes on senior cut day. Students who decided to stay in school in order to take those quizzes were often disappointed to find the quizzes made up of basic questions like: "Write your name on the line" or "What book are we reading in class right now?" "The teachers shouldn't get offended and give 400 point tests on the day. It has nothing to do with respect -- it's just a tradition," expressed an anonymous senior. Many teachers refused to comment on senior cut day because they are not supposed to acknowledge its existence.

The consensus about the actual experience at the parade is exactly what most would expect: it was fun for the students to be with their friends, but the parade itself was overhyped. Drinking was definitely a component of the day for most who went to the parade. For many, alcohol consumption started at someone's house at around 9 AM. Drinking was a common theme among the senior class on senior cut day -- even for some of those who attended school.

The disciplinary measures that followed cutting were all part of the fun. Detentions were assigned -- so many, in fact, that dozens of seniors were taken to the large Little Theater in order to reflect on their wrongdoing on March 25. For many of the students present, it was their first and last detention. The energy during detention was lively, and it did not seem like many seniors regretted their cutting of classes.

The administration is so against cut day because they immediately associate the tradition with underage drinking. No one is denying that such activities do occur. Yet, not everyone went to the parade on cut day or even cut school at all. However, here's a thought: why can't senior cut day be a senior celebration day sanctioned by the school?

Bonamo should pick a day in April, when the weather is too beautiful to be sitting inside the classrooms, and organize a senior field day, picnic, or movie night. It may be true that high school students roll their eyes at school-organized events. Yet, an important concept to consider is that many students go to the parade not necessarily to pay respects to good ole St. Patrick. They instead go because everyone else is going, and it is fun to be in one place with a majority of the grade. It would likewise be fun to do anything (well, almost anything – no more SATs, please) as long as everyone is together. Of course there is prom and graduation, but a sort of "sanctioned cut day" can be special.

Seniors have less than fifty days left of high school. Given, cutting school should never be condoned, but teachers and administrators can approach the day and turn the tradition into a positive celebration, which everyone can safely enjoy. Classroom lectures are important, but in the last days of high school, spending time with those fellow classmates with whom one has trekked through the dark, awkward days of adolescence is perhaps more important. Seniors are almost there. They should finish together -- and the administration should be there with them.

Photos and quotes live from Senior Cut Day detention on 3/25:JanetDanielandOyanails

kayla

Comments   

+1 #12 An Irish-American teacher 2015-03-29 09:29
Most teachers have this crazy idea that what we do actually matters, and that students who miss a day of instruction are missing something valuable. If this attitude discourages a few kids from doing something stupid, all the better.

Isn't helping kids make wise choices part of our jobs? Your kids are a lot safer in school. The commenters who are taking this opportunity to criticize teachers and administrators who care about your children's safety—for every kid who went to a museum there were several who drank—and education really need their heads examined.

Why parents would condone senior cut day, knowing that many kids are going to engage in behavior that might lead to problems, is a complete mystery to me.

The school as an institution, and many, many individual teachers, acknowledge the unique situation of seniors every day. There are any number of class-wide activities in which seniors can engage to come together as a class.

I regret that some teachers think a senior cut day that, for far too many, involves drinking (and, I might add, making a mockery of a day rather important to me) is worthy of tacit support, but I am quite comfortable insisting that students who wish to honor St. Patrick do what I do: Celebrate after school.
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-1 #11 parent 2015-03-27 10:49
Doesn't anyone remember what it is like to be 17?? Finishing high school, feeling like you can conquer the world?? Sad that high school is ending but so excited for the future??? Senior cut day is practiced all over the country. Take out the parade and drinking and you have my vote. One child notes she used her time to go to the MET. Sounds like a great use of the day. And don't kid yourself, a lot of teachers embrace senior cut day. That's the real problem. It should be an official day for the class to be together. Very mixed messages from the school. The principal sends out one letter and the teachers encourage another. Carpe Diem! And please stop being so judgmental. That's the real problem here. Too much anger in these comments.
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+2 #10 really 2015-03-27 10:26
@ Shs parent

Formany Catholics, St Patrick's day is an actual religious holiday where people actually attend church and don't use it as an excuse to drink and attend parades....that would be the reason why some teachers use a personal day to take off.
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+2 #9 Teacher here 2015-03-27 07:45
I have no problem with a senior cutting and tell them to do it if the want to suffer whatever consecuences come from it. I gave a major exam the day after (due to snow days, field trips, etc I didn't have much wiggle room). The day that the kids were cutting was the day that we did the major review. Unfortunately some kids (the ones that cut only 5 of 22) did very poorly and the parents and students are now complaining about how unfair that is. You chose to cut and now this is what the conscuence is. I am not giving make ups and not giving up more time to review on time that shuold be spent reviewing and helping other students because you chose to cut.
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-3 #8 Yet another parent 2015-03-26 23:03
Pretty sure the senior cut day "tradition" is the only one of those mentioned in prior messages that has no support from the school administration (and for good reason). I see it in quite a different category from the on-site activities such as the assassin game, pajama day, and Halloween. Similar to the bizarre Utica road trip written up elsewhere on this site, the lack of any sort of adult supervision whatsoever is what puts kids in a more vulnerable situation. I suppose it will take a hospital visit or worse to wake some parents up to the fact that this is actually a pretty stupid idea.
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+3 #7 Shs parent 2015-03-26 21:56
Dear another shs parent,
My kids have jobs and volunteer. Neither have had any issues in school. By second semester senior year when the child is in college I feel it is ok to have a personal day. I believe strongly in personal days and it is ok with me if you do not agree. My child not being in school is not something that has anything to do with you .
Be careful how you judge others because I am sure you may not want to be judged.
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-5 #6 Another SHS Parent 2015-03-26 20:37
Dear Shs parent,

It's illegal. It's called truancy. I can see you are teaching good habits.
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0 #5 another SHS parent 2015-03-26 20:20
Senior cut day is a long standing Scarsdale tradition. Just like the halloween costumes, senior slump day (when they wear pajama's to school), assasin, etc. To make the kids come to school only to be given a test that asks "write your name" or "name the book we are reading" is silly. More than half the school cuts because more than half the teachers encourage it. It is a mixed message. And entitled or not, these kids worked incredibly hard. Yes, it's their job to work hard, but the pressure is incredible senior year. Give them a day to stop and smell the flowers. Ferris Bueller anyone?
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-2 #4 Shs parent 2015-03-26 19:50
Dear shs mother
I grew up in an area that was not "entitled" and we had senior cut day. I am sick of hearing from parents complaining about entitled kids. These kids did not choose to live in Scarsdale, you did as a parent. What is the harm if the child misses a day of school and is responsible.
The hostilities on this site sometimes is deplorable. Every parent should be able to decide for themselves what they value and make sure that their child is respectful.
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0 #3 SHS mother 2015-03-26 18:44
The whole idea of "Senior cut day" is ridiculous! My daughter went to school like she is supposed to do every single day of her fantastic education at the high school! (unless she is sick of course)
This just screams of the "entitled attitude" which many of the kids have here. They conveniently forget that they are living in their parent's house, on their parent's money, etc. etc. Somehow they believe that THEY had a hand in their good fortune.

That they have worked hard for 12 years (or 13 with kindergarten) is their job now. And what else do they have to do all day long? Send selfies out to the world?!? Their grand prize is getting into a great college...where they can spread their wings and soar! They actually DID earn that right!

Senior cut day? Not in my house! Doesn't make me all too popular with my children BUT I am their mother, not their friend!
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