SENIORS, SIGNING OFF: Competition brings out Country Day’s best quality

Every year, graduating seniors on The Octagon write a final piece to say goodbye to Country Day. This is one of nine pieces by the class of ’22.

I entered SCDS in ninth grade, much later than most of my classmates, who had started here in lower school. I didn’t know where any of the classrooms were, and I didn’t know about any of the teachers or students. While I have moved between schools before, I had never entered a class as small as ours where everyone already knew each other and had made their respective friend groups.

Although I was intimidated at first, I quickly realized the best part of our community: the immense support from the faculty and students. Even though I couldn’t reminisce about the Washington D.C. or Sutter’s Fort field trips, I’ve always felt welcome to make new memories and friends.

Now, four years later, as I’m looking back at my high school experience and getting ready to leave, that initial analysis still stands. Country Day’s smaller class sizes and resources are great, but seeing how much everyone cares about each other whether they’re winning or losing is truly outstanding — something which sets our school miles ahead of any other.

I have never felt more like a community than after losing the County Mock Trial Championship round or the quarterfinals of the D2 tennis Sectionals this year. And, we still celebrated how far we came because that’s just who we are.

It’s unfortunate that such opportunities to offer support to everyone, whether they’re at the top or not, are being watered down on campus.

The M&M Man is a celebration of college admission success, where during high school morning meetings, students can announce colleges they’ve been accepted into and receive a handful of M&Ms in return. High school seniors have worked incredibly hard over the past four years to apply and get into a college where they might be spending their future. However, the M&M Man tradition was removed with the idea that students who might have not gotten into their college of first choice would be hurt.

However, this tradition is not supposed to put others down. It’s supposed to show how proud the SCDS community is of the countless number of hours the students have put into the application process. The unique strength of our community means that students will not turn on each other in the face of competition.

Success and failure is inevitable. It’s not possible or wise for Country Day to remove the ability for students to experience both. By removing the tradition altogether, Country Day is not preparing students for the real world, where their feelings won’t always be protected and some students will end up placing higher than others. 

It’s better if students face that feeling now, in a setting where they’re comfortable and surrounded by a supportive community as opposed to a completely new environment. And, at the end of the day, this tradition isn’t about failure. So, let’s not make it about that.

That same reasoning was used when the school removed itself from the Cum Laude Society, a national chapter that honored the top 20% of the class in both junior and senior year based on weighted GPA.

Instead, the school started its own society: the Country Day Summa Cum Laude Society. Country Day’s society now only honors seniors who have a cumulative unweighted GPA of 3.9 or higher.

I understand that Country Day doesn’t hold class rank, but juniors miss an opportunity to write about getting Cum Laude on their college applications. Furthermore, it means that an A in French 3 has the same impact as Advanced Placement French.

Being more inclusive, even if it’s a minor GPA difference, makes the recognition less meaningful.

In the annual high school awards ceremony, if everyone receives an award, then the meaning of someone excelling in a certain category gets lost. At the end of the day, we are all happy and proud of how far each of us has come.

The school shifting away from rigor has been a small blight in an otherwise fantastic four years. I truly have enjoyed my high school experience so much, and I would not be the person I am today without the faculty and students who make our school what it is. Bringing back these beloved traditions will make our experience just that little bit stronger, not any weaker.

— By Sanjana Anand

Originally published in the May 24 issue of The Octagon.

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