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All achievements, no quotes: yearbook should not remove senior quotes

To many students, senior quotes are undoubtedly the bow on top of a neatly packaged high school career.

In the past, senior quotes offered inclusivity and propelled creativity, as students were allowed to express themselves freely as a lasting farewell to the school. However, this year senior quotes are being replaced with something much more restrictive: school positions, titles or accomplishments.

Senior quotes are, at best, an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the thoughts of a diverse student body. However, asking seniors to hyperfocus on superficial “titles” and “positions” discourages creative reflection and is actively demoralizing: students should not be encouraged to base their identity and self-worth on their educational and career achievements.

On the surface, the sudden shift from quotes to school accomplishments seems widely error-free, encouraging students to take pride in their hard work throughout high school. However, the question remains if replacing quotes with achievements will really solve the problem that led to the removal of senior quotes in the first place.

The decision to scrap senior quotes was postponed last year due to student feedback and new parameters were subsequently created, explained Kiley Craft, advisor of the school’s yearbook The Prowler.

“Students continued to submit inappropriate material, so the decision was made to eliminate that complication,” Craft told Paw Prints Weekly.

Senior quotes were replaced to prevent harmful, racial and sexual innuendos—but why not filter out quotes with those inappropriate messages instead of removing them completely?

“In the past, if a student submitted an inappropriate comment—sometimes it is not even inappropriate; it is flat out misquoting. For example, people would just make stuff up and attribute it to the wrong person,” said Craft.

Moreover, some seniors are clueless about what school “accomplishments” actually are. There is poor guidance on what senior achievements include other than listing titles.

Craft explains that school accomplishments are not just limited to ASB President, also included are positions like class president and captain of a sports team. Things that “all students should be doing to be competitive in the workforce anyways,” Craft explained.

“There are, I am sure, some people that still will not have done any of those things, or maybe students who have done things outside of school, I cannot verify those things. Achievements need to be on-campus things so that we can go through a verification process and make sure students aren’t making stuff up. Students that do not have anything from any of those categories will still get the ‘Congratulations to Class of 2022,” said Craft.

There is nothing wrong with celebrating one’s achievements. However, as a senior currently drowning in a world of college applications, the thought of finalizing my four years of high school with yet another form that asks me to type out my accomplishments is very disheartening.

Many seniors are feeling the same way during college application season; stress caused by a toxic focus on superficial titles and academic achievements should not carry over into an experience like senior quotes which is meant to be uplifting and reflective.

It is fitting, yet incredibly disappointing, that GAWHS decided to replace senior quotes with school accomplishments, reflecting an unhealthy focus on results rather than the reflections during our learning process.

Understandably, senior quotes have a great potential for damage: libel, innuendos and bullying can easily slip past editors and advisors which reflects badly on both the yearbook as well as the school.

“We are trying to create a publication that students can be proud of forever, and not dwell on the negativity of certain issues,” said Craft.

Nevertheless, other than replacing senior quotes with achievements, there are other options that are more inclusive. For example: having each senior state his or her future plans. Admittedly, no matter what is done, there will be issues with the implementation of quotes in the yearbook. However, completely removing them and designating “school achievements” in its place is illogical.

Senior quotes bring about a myriad of responses, from apathy & anxiety to reflection & excitement. Regardless of a student’s feelings toward this iconic end-of-high school tradition, one thing is clear: future plans for the school yearbook should allow for the 2023-2024 senior class to be embodied as accurately and eloquently as possible without stifling their creativity.

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