Freedom deemed hazardous under new policy


Ross Parks

DSC_0195In last year’s visit from Wayne Walker, the first principal and founder of many of the school’s core ideals, remarked on how he remembered the school, and how he felt proud the school has stayed true to how he formed, and eventually left, it. It must have been a proud moment to stand in front of his brainchild of ideals, and former place of work to see what he created, alive and well; however, that was last year, and after this year, perhaps those core ideals Walker strived for are no longer the same.
“Freedom with responsibility,” a slogan well known here at RBHS, forms the pillars of who we are as a student body. As a school, RBHS is original, forward thinking and liberal in views on students and the level of freedom, coupled with responsibility, that is bestowed upon high school students, and more importantly, young adults. Since the inception of this school, its policies have been unique and above all, effective. In the short, progressive and expansive life as an institution of education, these walls have given birth to numerous leaders, thinkers and activists within this immediate community and across the globe.
The school has always maintained a central identity and mantra on education that is far outside the norm and has upheld an ideology on education that has not only been authentic but consistent.
In all ways, the school and its administration has served up numerous opportunities for students to prove their level of responsibility and how much they deserve the freedom they are given.
The idea behind how the school operate makes sense. We are young adults, entrusted to hold jobs, drive cars, pay taxes and decide where we belong in the world, so it makes sense that we be treated like the adults we are every day of our lives while we are in school.
In the recent changes made to the school, accompanied by the addition of a whole new grade level, these changed provided the administration an opportunity to exemplify and illuminate the unique and productive attitude RBHS holds toward education.
Among these alterations and stressors arose the idea of Bruin Block, a small section of the day dedicated to community building for the two lower grade levels, community building. For juniors and seniors, it was intended to be a generous hour long lunch that on occasion might be interrupted for assemblies or class meetings.
In all, the plan was one that held true to the core of our view on free time and student responsibility. The administration was right to enhance advisory with a stronger sense of community and to entrust the students to safely enjoy their long lunches.
However, because of poor attendance at the senior assemblies, administration opted for a mandatory reconstruction of a weekly schedule, rather than use the hour provided by Bruin Block in order to ensure a full assembly. Therefore, the administration created “Like Day” schedules instead of cutting from class time to remedy the “issue” of attendance at such meetings.
Everyone just went through a day of “Like Day” schedules, and while we cannot change the past, this does not stop us from considering it. Basically, the message the administration is sending is that they administration do not trust us to attend the assemblies that are created in large by and for us.
Now, before this moves too far ahead, it must be readdressed, that yes, before this year, all assemblies were taken from class time, and hour lunches were unimaginable. Teachers stood guard at the exits, and we all filed into the gymnasium to attend the mandatory assembly, every single student, happy and eager to hear what there was to be said about the things upcoming in the school.
But wait, that wasn’t the case.
The gymnasium was never full, and despite the efforts to guard the doors, many students found their way out of the school or perhaps toward other areas of the school and some even to lunch or home.
Though this behavior, in truth, was not endorsed, it was commonplace and little seemed to be done about it. Those who attended the assemblies did so because they wanted to or had nothing better to do.
Those who didn’t want to, found a way to not go despite the urging that they do.
Ironically, the same methods are being used this year to increase attendance at school gatherings, despite the entire hour that then gets cut into. So, in short, the administration has now altered entire days of a week, and cut into the allotted time for assemblies, to increase or assure, full attendance at assemblies.
Nonetheless and despite how little sense that may make, that truly isn’t the issue here.The root of the issue is that, in this year of change, RBHS has the opportunity to strengthen and show off its unique way of educating.
This year, with the incorporation of a new grade, and this new, unexplored Bruin Block idea, the ideals of “Freedom with Responsibility” could have been given a chance to be proven more a truth than ever before. Instead, administration has gone to great and complex lengths to ensure a coddle method for attendance, a method in no way aligned with our traditional view on student trust.
In truth, if students are not interested in a meeting, then they shouldn’t go. Just as club meetings are not mandatory, then neither should be an assembly.
Just as in any other meeting, it would be much more enjoyable for those who want to be there, would show up. Perhaps, the worry is that students won’t attend because they won’t be forced to, and then nobody will care to take part if “nobody” shows up.
However, the counter argument is just as, if not more logical.
Students who feel they have an option to attend, will more than likely fill the bleachers, to see things that they want to see and be a part of the assembly. If the gatherings are about the things we are really interested in, then we will show up; otherwise, the administration should insert the information into the announcements.
Overall, as students and fellow Bruins, it doesn’t seem clear what more we should do to prove we are worthy of our freedom.
RBHS students perform at high levels, far above standard, and remain out of trouble as a whole, and for those few who do fall into trouble, there is a system to realign those individuals. These select few should not cause the release of a blanket statement for the entire school.
Honestly, if not showing up to the meetings really hinders graduating, then many seniors shouldn’t be walking across the stage this year since they haven’t shown up for senior meetings, but it’s doubtful that will happen.
In all, there are two options; to adopt a new school slogan, “Confinement with distrust”, or prove to the administration that we deserve what we have always had, and what has made this school unlike any other for all the right reasons.
By Ross Parks