Head to Head: Senior Month From the Junior Perspective — Senior Month Isn’t The Way To Cure Senioritis


Photo credit: Maddy Leja

“May Month is seen as one of the many barriers that come before graduation.” Comic by Maddy Leja.

When Senior Month first was pitched in Student Government, I was intrigued. It seemed like an interesting opportunity to bring back an old Parker tradition and a way to cure the notorious “senioritis.” But, as the hypothetical Senior Month has gotten more real and Plenary debates have gotten more heated, I’ve started to side with the anti-Senior Month perspective.

Senior Month has been framed as a way to combat senioritis by getting students out into the real world. But Senior Month isn’t going to fix senioritis. If seniors are losing motivation to do homework and show up to class, they aren’t going to magically regain this motivation during an internship. If a student is going to goof off at school, it’s not good for them to be goofing off during their internship or passion project, especially since they are representing Parker. 

I have noticed that during Plenary, a lot of students share the sentiment that they will just avoid doing any meaningful work. Senior Month isn’t seen as an opportunity, it’s just seen as one of the many barriers that come before the finish line of graduating. Meaningfulness can’t be quantified and I don’t think that Parker would block a student from graduating just because they didn’t do enough during Senior Month. 

Senior Month will also take away from the Class of 2021’s last moments with their Upper School friends. During quarantine, I’ve realized that hanging out with people at school between classes is one of the things that refuels my energy and keeps me going. Sure, I may not be best friends with the same people for the rest of my life, but I wouldn’t want to lose those moments. I’ve looked forward to being able to play foosball on the fourth floor and hang out with my friends during our senior year. It feels like the reward at the end of four long years of constant productivity. I don’t want to lose that.

One of the options for Senior Month is to do a passion project with a small group. Sure, that would fix the friends issue but not entirely. My friends are passionate about extremely different things. I don’t want to spend a month doing a science project when I would rather do a writing project. 

If Senior Month were to come around, however, I know exactly what I would do. The thing is, I don’t need a month set aside to do a passion project, and Senior Month wouldn’t be the best way to do this. I could just as easily do this project in my free time, over the summer, or as part of an independent study. 

Most Senior Month passion projects or internships could be done outside of an independent study. Besides the fact that many internships are only open to college students and graduates, those internships would usually happen during the summer and aren’t limited to a month. 

I agree with the idea that Senior Month is a good way to create opportunities for students with less connections. It’s not the most equitable way, though. Parker says it will work with the alumni office to connect students to internships and mentors. Though an internship or mentor is beneficial, it’s better to have a greater network of connections than just one. Many Upper Schoolers don’t know what they want to do as a career. Though Senior Month could be life changing for one student, it may be a waste for another because they decide that they want to do something else.

A plan that involves networking and gaining experience is important, but Senior Month is not the way to do it. Last year, a career day was being planned. That is the event that needs to be the focus, not senior month. We need a career day that connects us to many people, so that we can gain more knowledge about more fields. The opportunity to find mentors and possibly work with them later for a longer more meaningful internship is more important. I want a program that puts me in contact with more people, so that I can figure out what I want to do. 

With connections to more alumni, there would be more opportunities to discover new careers and get this needed experience in the job world before we go to college. With mentorship, we as students could shadow someone for a day, which I believe is more beneficial than buying someone coffee and changing the ink in a printer day after day. Many jobs would have more requirements and necessary qualifications that we cannot meet as high school students. 

Many internships aren’t for high school students. In my own search for internships, I kept seeing “must be a graduate student” or “must be a sophomore in college or above.” I don’t want to be stuck with an internship or passion project I don’t enjoy because of the age barrier. 

Another sentiment I’ve heard in student government is that the idea of Senior Month has been derailed by the word “internship.” But even the passion project idea seems lacking. The requirement of Senior Month is 20-25 hours of work for four weeks. That adds up to about 80 hours. I have no idea what passion project would possibly last that long. It’s hard to find something I’m passionate about as a 16-year-old, and I doubt I’ll figure it out in less than two years. What happens if we get burned out from doing the same thing for 80 hours? Is this really fixing senioritis?

There’s also the logistical issue of classes that are multi-grade. I was in an elective last year where it was all seniors and me, a sophomore. Last year, when the last week of classes got cancelled for seniors, those classes were cancelled for me as well. Are these classes going to be cancelled an entire month early? It’s unrealistic for them to continue, especially if performances and finals are done, because there will be little reason for the non-senior students to put in effort. Will this not cause senioritis for everyone else?

What about clubs like “The Weekly?” “The Weekly” needs to continue to be producing issues, but that can’t happen when a large portion of the editorial board and staff are not in school. Integral parts of the Parker community like The Weekly, MX Committee, SIRB, Model UN, and many others are run by seniors and still continue to happen in May. The final issue of the Weekly, the last MXes of the year, and the teachers SIRB hires are the legacies that seniors leave at Parker. 

What about Cookies? Is Cookies not an opportunity to explore things we as students are passionate about? Since it’s at the end of April and the start of May, it means that seniors have less than a week between Cookies and Senior Month. Cookies will become obsolete for seniors.

The concept of Senior Month is a good one: get students out of the classroom and into the world to gain experience and do something they enjoy. The issue I’m having with Senior Month is that so much of the plan is flawed. There are too many risks and too many issues that haven’t been addressed. Student input must be addressed by the administration before this is put in place because there are so many holes to this plan. 

I’ve noticed in student government that each person has a problem with Senior Month and many of the problems aren’t the same. Some students play sports, some want to take electives, some have jobs, and some are in physics or US History their senior year. There are too many individual issues with Senior Month. Each student cannot have Senior Month tailored exactly to them, but if it isn’t, Senior Month will be a waste. 

Ultimately, I don’t know what’s going to happen next year. In Plenary, a resolution passed by 92% to postpone Senior Month until next year. Hopefully, that will give the administration some time to work out these kinks. I think that Senior Month is possible and could be so good for us as Parker students if it’s planned right, but so far it doesn’t seem like the execution will be great. These large issues need to be fixed, and until then, I say no to Senior Month.

Senior Month from Junior Perspective: Yay or Nay?

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