Don’t do away with tradition

Though some senior customs occasionally pose problems, getting rid of them isn’t the solution

Jonah Kupritz


Perhaps it’s hard to appreciate being pelted with water balloons or to watch a group of teenage boys twirl around in dresses in a dance that intermittently edges on illicit, but these instances share one valuable commonality: they are traditions.

The aforementioned senior prank and senior boys’ dance stand among the most infamous of the senior rituals at Park.

A couple of years ago some seniors decided to rollerskate into the school. Last year, some students decided to bring their dogs to school. And let us not forget the bouncy-balls in the hallway.

As for the senior boys dance– that seldom fails to “cross the line” once or twice.

Other traditions, somewhat less infringing, include painting the senior wall and “day 69,” when some senior boys come to school with self-designed T-shirts on the 69th day of the academic year. Senior girls do the same for “day 96” on the 96th day of school.

In the past, however, even the harmless act of painting a wall has turned problematic. Last spring, for example, four students decided to paint “go b16 or go home” in front of one of the busiest school entrances, and subsequently were suspended.

A good question to ask at this point might be “what is the solution?” Should the school administrators simply do away with these pesky senior practices? Well, a good answer would be no.

An outright ban on these time-honored traditions would be neither effective nor beneficial for two reasons.

Primarily, if the administration outlawed, say, the painting of the senior wall, what’s to stop a group of rowdy teenagers with underdeveloped prefrontal cortexes from buying some paint and brushes and sneaking in at night to paint it anyway?

Common knowledge dictates one of the quickest ways to encourage a group of adolescents to do something is to ban it, especially when it’s something the they feel strongly they deserve or when the ban puts an end to a revered tradition.

Then one must consider the value of tradition itself.

These traditions add another dimension to Park. They create a connection for each senior class to the many senior classes before it by providing a common link.

Though a senior class may know nothing of and share little in common with the class 10 years before it, it shares the collective experience of painting the same wall the night of graduation, or of putting on a silly dance on the very same gym floor for the homecoming pep rally.

So, if getting rid of these traditions isn’t the solution, what is? How can we possibly right the wrongs that occasionally result from them?

The administration could, as one solution, leave the traditions in place but clarify or increase the boundaries. For instance, the senior prank could still take place, but with a list of prohibited actions provided to all seniors.

Nevertheless, nothing can force the seniors to follow the guidelines, and with just days until graduation, the list of what not to do may become more of a challenge.

In fact, the administration has tried to keep the senior dance in line year after year to no avail, and for that reason the senior dance will not be back this year.

Why not, instead of creating new rules, just create new, beneficial traditions to go along with ones already in place?

The current traditions had to have started with one class, so what would stop the upcoming senior class from being able to start some new ones?

Leave the wall-painting, the dancing, the pranks and all the other traditions in place, but add on to those “senior service day” where the entire senior class skips school to volunteer in the St. Louis Park community, or “senior giving day” where every member of the senior class brings in a can of food.

The options for new traditions are endless, but the idea is concise and clear: instead of doing away with the old traditions, create some better ones that allow the graduating class to leave a positive, lasting impact with a connection to the future classes that will do the same.