Every year, high school seniors across the country look forward to second semester for the annual epidemic of senioritis. If you’re unfamiliar with senioritis, no, it’s not a real disease that affects high school seniors or the elderly. Senioritis is actually just a play on words to describe the relaxing (one might say slacking off) that many seniors take part in when the college application process finishes in January.
Senioritis has risen to the status of being acknowledged by most senior teachers as inevitable. It’s inevitable that teachers will probably have to make some sort of adjustment to accommodate the increasing lack of motivation in their senior students. In fact, two teachers, Mrs. Garry and Mr. O’Keefe, have outlined solutions to the problem.
Mrs. Garry teaches my AP Literature class. It takes a certain level of commitment to English to take AP Literature, with the amount of nightly reading that often includes difficult reads such as Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. However, according to Mrs. Garry, this level of commitment plummets second semester to the point where oftentimes very few students are still consistently reading by the end of the year. After a few years of disappointing lesson plans gone to waste, Mrs. Garry says she switched the curriculum to have the more difficult books covered earlier in the year and then do more “fun” books in the second semester, often while watching the movie adaptation too. Right now, Mrs. Garry’s AP Literature classes are reading Cormac McCarthy’s All The Pretty Horses and are watching the movie adaptation too.
While Mrs. Garry has taught at Friends for more than 30 years, Mr. O’Keefe has taught at Friends for significantly less. This is his only his third year at Friends, his second in the Upper School, but he is well aware of senioritis and has put in effort to find a solution. His AP Government class is unique in that it combines two College Board classes, Comparative Government and American Government, into one class. This makes it rather difficult to fully slow down second semester, seeing as there’s a whole new curriculum to introduce and make it through before the AP exam in May. Right before winter break, Mr. O’Keefe asked his classes to fill out a survey to discuss what would keep students engaged in the second semester. In the opening weeks of the new American Government curriculum, Mr. O’Keefe’s adjustments have added more group-based work into a typical class with much less lecture-style teaching, aimed at maintaining the attention of his students.
I won’t sell myself as a saint and say that I’ve never once thought about what it’d be like to slack off just a tiny bit for the second semester. In fact, I’m actually looking forward to going to bed early and not having to stay up until 1 A.M multiple times a week studying, doing standardized testing prep, or writing an absurd amount of college essays. I understand the reasoning behind not wanting to do anything once second semester hits and grades don’t matter much anymore, since they don’t factor into college admissions. But for me, I think it’s disrespectful to our teachers’ efforts to completely tank for four months. I can’t say senioritis is wrong, because certainly seniors have worked enough to deserve some relaxation, but there’s got to be some middle ground for it to coexist with treating teachers with respect.