On Tuesday, October 11, 2016, members of the Student Body and the Class of 2017 SGA had a meeting with Mr. Dolan in which they aired their grievances with recent changes—the class gowns and the new senior picnic being the main topics of conversation—and they were dissatisfied with some of the responses.
Despite the historical tradition of white and blue, Principal Dolan informed the SGA representatives that starting with this year, the graduating classes of La Plata will now don a blue gown with white sleeve stripes. Furthermore, everyone, regardless of gender, will be together in one blue conglomerate. Although there was much dissent about detracting from the usual graduating attire, Dolan stated that there was nothing particularly traditional about the old gowns; instead, the new gowns are outfitted with a La Plata sigil, and this decision in addition to putting together the entire senior class during graduation were all done in the name of preserving unity. We appreciate what he’s trying to accomplish, but it was the way it was conducted that has sparked some arguments.
Although it has been noted that the decision to change the gowns was voted upon, it was the Class of 2016 who voted. Last year’s graduating class had females wearing white and males wearing blue; what they voted upon did not influence their class. The Class of 2017 was supposedly informed that what the Class of 2016 decided would influence them, but, knowing this, they still were not given a vote. This lack of choice is the source of disagreement for some.
Members of the Class of 2017 have been offered a senior class picnic to fill the void that was left by taking out the class trip, but some of the administration’s rationales were a bit polemical. Number-wise, last year’s senior trip to Cedar Point only had around thirty people attend compared to the class’ three hundred plus members, which is not really representative of the entirety of the graduating group, but the administration’s other reason was the fact that the trip in and of itself was considered a “liability factor.”
Let’s consider this for a second: is this so-called “liability” a matter of distance? If it were to be a matter of distance, this could be understandable. After all, kids can really do a lot on a bus ride. Also, if something detrimental were to happen, it would take the students a long time for students to return home or for loved ones to come pick them up. However, distance hasn’t been an issue in the past. A whole 853 miles away, Show Troupe’s trip to Disney World last year easily dwarfs the 454 miles the Class of 2016 had to go through to get to the Ohioan amusement park. If the idea is that bus ride travel time is a “liability” because of what students may do on the bus, well, Show Troupe’s trip allowed significantly more room for activities than did the Class of 2016’s senior trip. Thomas Stone’s senior trip to NYC doesn’t help this either; if the Cougars are allowed to do that, what makes Warriors so unqualified to do the same?
Is it a matter of money? A senior trip does come with a price tag, burdening students and their families already burdened by the costs of standardized testing, senior dues, and college applications. However, students are not given an option in whether or not to pay these costs, if they wish to go to college. Meanwhile, students are given an option on whether to attend the senior trip or not. Besides, Financial Literacy’s trip to New York costs $399, leagues more than the typical prices of the senior trip, which are somewhere in the ballpark of a hundred dollars. Show Troupe’s $700 trip to Disney last year surpasses even that. Meanwhile, McDonough High School’s class trip to Florida costs $500 for two days.
Is it a matter of missing school days? It’s understandable that we keep attendance in high regard as teachers continue to teach despite a student being absent, so each day of attendance is of value. However, the aforementioned trip to New York is on the Thursday and Friday of a school week while Unplugged’s music competition to the Big Apple two years ago missed the Friday of that week. The Disney Land trip started before spring break, leading to them missing one and a half school days. To be honest, by the end of high school, it’s not so drastic to give the seniors one last break, especially after the stressful year of college applications and decisions and that last bout of AP testing. After taking all these classes, students are surely able to handle any absent work that they may receive. Many seniors manage to handle AP classes, multiple clubs, and jobs, so missing a little school shouldn’t hurt too much when grades and rank are practically finalized.
Is it a matter of staying overnight? Staying overnight does place a burden on chaperones for the trip because they must put in measures to ensure that students are not going into each other’s rooms at night. However, there have been recent overnight trips. The cost of the aforementioned Financial Literacy trip and the Florida trip for Show Troupe involves the cost of a hotel. Obviously, it is not an issue to allow overnight trips.
Is it a matter of numbers? To be honest, using the information from last year, a less than ten percent of the senior class attended the end of the year celebration, which once again raises the issues of involvement and money. Even then, many of the attendees held the trip to Cedar Point in high regard because for some, it was their first time outside Maryland, let alone Southern Maryland. Should we deny opportunities like this to experience what the world has to offer, a lesson perpetually drilled into the heads of our very students, solely based on the fact that it inconveniences or poses a burden on administration?
The class trip is just that, an opportunity, so it shouldn’t be replaced by a class picnic, but rather still provided as an option. The Class of 2017 has thought it through. We did not want to go somewhere far away (Ohio was pushing it). We proposed Busch Gardens, a close location when compared to some of the other excursions recently, cutting down costs and maximizing time for having enough fun to avoid staying overnight. The Senior Class government would sponsor the trip and deal with the financials. If it’s really such an issue in terms of involvement, set a quota of forty or so kids for the senior trip. The class picnic can stay—it’s funded by senior dues anyway—but the so-called “liability” of a senior trip should still be offered. It lets administration and students alike have their cake and eat it too.