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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

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