Seniority at RHS or any high school is inevitable. The concept of seniority is that individuals who are older or have experience gain more privileges. This is a basic law of life at RHS, from senior captains of clubs and athletic teams, to upperclassmen scoffing at the freshman’s inexperience with the Learning Commons’ printers. We even separate lunch areas by grade, and it’s commonplace to hear outrage over a freshman in the campus center or cafeteria.
As much as students like to ridicule freshman inexperience, we were all freshman at one point, lost in a maze-like school and oblivious to the social code that came with being a ninth grader. Sympathy towards the students going through one of the largest transitions in their young-adult lives would greatly improve inter-grade relations at this school.
However, freshman empathy makes up the majority of my disdain towards seniority. Being older does not mean that one is wiser, but passing off the torch between leaders of extracurriculars each year is a beautiful tradition that gives the eventual leaders time to get a feel for what that job entails. In the current system for the majority of clubs at RHS, leadership opportunities are given based on a combination of both seniority and skill. This means officer positions for sophomores and juniors and leadership positions for juniors or seniors.
To a freshman or sophomore, the system may seem flawed at the time, but if they really deserve a role, they will receive one when they are old enough to be considered. By giving power to the inexperienced, clubs would destroy the slow training experience that they have used for years.
The similar status quo applies to the multiple years of participation on a sports team in order to become a leader. This seems fitting, given that the future leaders have plenty of time to observe how their predecessors did the job. In this way, the vision of the original founders are still lived out by these clubs, even as they evolve with the times. Beyond getting a sense of leadership within a club, when leaders are older, they are also much more familiar with the members. Having this familiarity is crucial to building trust with those in charge.
Just as freshman arrive at RHS without knowing where their rooms are or how to use the printers, they also don’t come into clubs and teams knowing how to run them. It is up to their fellow students to guide them through the high school experience so that one day those students can do the same for future freshman to come. It is only in this way that our school may continue its precious traditions and institutions four years from now, when every student in the school today has graduated to greater things. Seniority is the reason why the school we entered on our very first day will be in many ways the same as the day we graduate. It is our job to make this school better for the next generation, rather than restart with each coming year.
Graphic: Amelia Chen