Exploring the value of the second semester senior experience
Christina de Fontnouvelle ’12
My eyes open drowsily on that Thursday morning as I resist the urge to hit the snooze button.
“Ah, what do I have today,” I mechanically think as I run through my classes in my mind, “Any big tests or quizzes or presentations…” But after a few moments, my eyes widen as I come to a realization: “It’s second semester! And I’m a second semester senior! Why bother, cause none of it matters anymore.”
That first day passes by jauntily, as I begin to doze off slightly in math class and don’t bother studying for my Latin quiz. But on the day after, the novelty has already begun to wear off. I feel horrible handing in a blank page in Latin, annoyed as I don’t understand math class, ashamed as I hide my botched physics homework.
At first I am confused, since achieving less-than-stellar grades this semester doesn’t impact college decisions. Yet after doing a little thinking, I realize that my discomfort with senioritis has its root not in my desire for good grades, but in my desire to learn and understand the material that I have the privilege to explore in such a comprehensive high school education.
Of course, my senioritis did not immediately end after that day, nor is it completely eradicated even now, but in comparison to the beginning of the semester, my senioritis is certainly “slacking off.” And this, I believe, is a very good thing.
There has been increasing debate recently about the value of senior year, senior spring especially, because of the common notion that high school seniors do nothing in the spring. However, as my physics teacher explained in his legendary “second semester talk,” full-blown senioritis is quite rare. On the contrary, I believe that second semester is an invaluable time for seniors, as it allows us to experience learning without the stigma of grades. It makes us realize that all our complaining notwithstanding, we really do enjoy learning for the sake of learning.
Without grades as the ever-constant motivator for academic success, students are forced to step back and analyze their motives as they complete the last few months of school. With grades off the table, myself and many peers have discovered that learning is actually a very strong motivator for completing stellar schoolwork. This realization is invaluable to us as students – acknowledging our true love of leaning will help us thrive as engaged scholars in college and beyond.
But even if the clammy grip of senioritis does take hold to some extent, the relative freedom that senior spring provides allows students to explore other passions to a degree that was impossible when high grades were necessary. As my physics teacher pointed out, the freedom we have now is unique in our school experience, and if we do choose to slack a little, we can use that extra time to discover more about ourselves and our true interests.
Naysayers, I know that some of you are still shaking your heads and thinking, “ah, this is BS, she just wants an excuse to go sleep and video game and party.” Fine, I will admit that we seniors may also engage in some of those phenomena, but sleeping and gaming and partying, no matter how fun they might be in the moment, become boring and even nauseating after a while. No one likes to feel like they are completely wasting their time – doing too much slacking just makes us feel gross. Thus, although yes, our senior “self-exploration period” may be somewhat of a joke compared to the whirlwind of junior June, I maintain that senior spring is an invaluable period for students. As my math teacher constantly encourages, this is the time when we can truly “break up with our grades” and revel in learning for the sake of learning itself.