By JAYNE CHUNG
413 senior students, 67.5% of the grade, were absent from school for “Invisible Day,” the unsanctioned senior ditch day, on Monday, March 22. Invisible Day marked the first day of Senior Crazy Week, the week before senior finals in which seniors dressed and/or acted according to a certain theme. Other themed days of the week included Pool Day, Frat Day, Holi Day and Throwback Day.
Despite an email message sent out to all seniors and their parents by Assistant Principal Mr. Matthew Pate (Admin.) warning against ditching school that Monday, 413 seniors were absent. Typically, less than 38 students are absent per grade on a normal Monday. Only 199 of the 612 seniors attended school on Monday.
“We did not anticipate that with the entire last week of school given off to the seniors that they would seek an additional day from school,” Principal Dr. Kevin Astor (Admin.) said. “We will work with the students to make the senior celebrations as exciting for them as possible and clarify earlier the need to refrain from additional ditch days.”
The administration and staff was objectively blindsided by the ditch day, only receiving credible knowledge of the coordinated ditch day the evening before.
Coordination for Invisible Day took place on a private Facebook event page titled “Crazy Week 2k17.” 309 UHS Seniors on Facebook were invited and had access to the posts. Seniors were given the opportunity to vote for themed Crazy Week days, and an unsanctioned senior ditch day emerged as the most popular proposed themed day. 142 students voted for Invisible Day, while the second most popular, Frat Day, received 86 votes.
The hosts of Crazy Week event page, Sara Way (Sr.), Neha Krishnam (Sr.) and Serena Wu (Sr.), the ASB Senior Class Leadership, maintain that Invisible Day was not an ASB sanctioned event but was instead an individual choice made by students.
“Our class as a whole is unspirited, but during Crazy Week everyone participated and the entire class came together,” Krishnam said. “This week made us feel like we’re truly seniors and was worth all of the planning and the trouble.”
The planning of an unsanctioned senior ditch day likely resulted from this year’s late placement of the school-sanctioned Senior Activity Day. While last year’s Senior Activity Day occurred during the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing, it now falls on the first day of graduation week. Since there were three school days prior to graduation this year, the Monday before graduation was designated the Senior Activity Day in order to not split the senior finals over the weekend.
Although Senior Activity Day is marketed as a day at Six Flags Magic Mountain, it is technically counted as a full school day. Many seniors viewed the day as a voluntary return to school, thus spurring the idea for an earlier unsanctioned ditch day on a regular school day.
“Because Senior Activity Day is after senior finals, it’s not really ditching school because school is basically done,” a student who willingly participated in Invisible Day and who wishes to remain anonymous said. “We wanted to be a little rebellious and to have a day of our own.”
The low participation rate of approximately a third of the usual number of seniors attending Senior Activity Day this year has caused the administration to consider other options such as moving the Activity Day earlier and placing senior finals the same week as graduation next year.
However, as AP Literature teacher Mr. Martin Stibolt (English Dept.) stated, “Seniors will be Seniors. Even in years where the activity day is scheduled prior to finals, there is always an attempt to have an extra ditch day. I believe it is tradition that will persist despite any attempt to make it otherwise”.
Many of the students who did not choose to participate in Invisible Day were forced by parents to attend, and others had to attend in order to participate in projects such as the AP Political Science Model Presidential Elections.
Some teachers gave out extra credit to seniors who attended school or refused to accept make-up work from unexcused seniors.
The unsanctioned ditch day was also popular among seniors since it functioned to extend the weekend after Prom, which took place the previous Saturday.
“Everything is a choice. I completely understand why the seniors ditched,” AP Economics teacher Ms. Nora Seager (Humanities Dept.) said. “But since they staged their protest, they should understand if administration also wants to protest by taking Activity Day, June 5th, and changing that day to a regular school day.”
Alternatively, AP Computer Science teacher Mr. Bryan Kinney (Math Dept.) was less sympathetic to the senior students and questioned their sense of responsibility. He stated, “The students were selfish and inconsiderate towards the school. They cared more about taking a day off than doing what was right.”
“I think it’s great to be creative and develop some enjoyable ways to celebrate an end to not only a four-year journey of high school, but the 13 year journey of school leading to University. I want to remind them that we have to be careful on what activities we encourage,” Astor said. “When we create disruptions like the color throw (dirty restrooms, interruption to class time, seniors not choosing or not able to go to class), it leads down a path that can get in the way of more important celebrations like the graduation ceremony itself.”