The Senior Year

In the spring of 1983, I got a letter from Auburn University. Turns out that my ACT scores and the requirements of the state-school football factory matched up. Seeing as how it was assumed that I’d wear my father’s class ring (kept in the top drawer of my mom’s rolltop desk) once I “checked the box” on my schedule to graduate from there, there was little effort in my college choice. It’s where I always wanted to go.

That summer I worked at Cobb’s Hoover Square 6 Theaters. I threaded projectors. I closed up. I counted money. I took tickets. I hung out with the guys that ran the gameroom after the midnight movies.

My senior year required that I finish the requirement for English, math, and history. There were lots of free periods…a couple of study halls and an office aid. The athletic period finished off the day. I spent several of those free periods at something called the Senior Patio hanging out and playing hacky-sack. There were the standard senior memories like pep rallies, homecoming dances (and my date was pretty and fun), road trips with friends, parties, prom (same date, even more pretty and more fun by this time), baseball season, and finished off with a trip to the beach for a week after the graduation hoopla–in a less litigious society the Carousel Hotel in Fort Walton Beach, Florida was more than happy to be filled with about 250 folks from my graduating class unchaperoned. Beautiful chaos on our side of the fence. Cash-cow nuisance on their side, I’d imagine.

Anyway, because my future was pretty much nailed down for that year. I was killing time. It was fun killing that time, and I don’t remember much stress afoot. So, I never thought about it much other than the reality that it was what it was.

Until I read Class Dismissed: Why not eliminate the self-indulgent debauched waste that is the senior year of high school? by Walter Kirn in the New York Times Sunday Magazine on Feb. 28.

Apparently, in a cost-cutting measure, a state senator in Utah proposed making the senior year optional for those that have their futures nailed down. He dropped the bill once the obvious crowing from teacher’s unions and students and parents happened. So it goes when you think outside the box.

Here’s a quote to get your brains engaged:

“For many American high school seniors, especially the soberest and most studious, senior year is a holding pattern, a redundancy, a way of running out the clock on a game that has already been won…Twelfth grade, for the students I’ve just described, amounts to a fidgety waiting period that practically begs for descents into debauchery and concludes in a big dumb party under a mirror ball that spins in place like the minds beneath it…If senior year were to vanish from our high schools…if the education process was shortened and compressed some, (it) might help kids think more clearly about their paths in life and set out on them on the right foot instead of waiting to shape up later on. And what would they miss, really, under such a system?…Nothing much. Just the loss of a year when nothing much happens, anyhow.”

Now, I’m saying I agree here…

…but what do you think, patrons.