Photo credit: Erik Hanson
On Friday, November 15th, over two hundred students skipped their 5th period to protest the proposed diploma changes, in which students would no longer be able to choose a teacher to present them with their diplomas. The students gathered on the Green and voiced their opinions on the possible change in the graduation process. Since then, the administration had a meeting open to students to discuss the topic, and numerous teachers have spoken out about their opinions on both the possible diploma changes and the walk out.
Students heavily protested the idea of taking this tradition away, arguing that administration is not listening to their opinions and voices. During the protest, senior Dmitry Goltsev said “The administration at this school does not do a good job in representing the students.”
Senior Jake Albro said “The admin at this school cares more about how they are perceived by others than the students have a good experience.”
However, staff has held four meetings where this topic was discussed, two of which were solely about this issue. M-A Today and digital filmmaking teacher John Giambruno said, “The Shared Decision-Making Site Council (SDMC) meetings are supposed to talk about many different issues happening at M-A right now, but we have dedicated two to talk entirely about the diplomas.” Statistics from the past meetings show that 32.5 % of teachers and staff believe the diplomas are an important tradition to preserve, while 37.4% believe that it is a nice tradition, but there are other ways to honor student-teacher relationships. Only 15% think it is a negative tradition. Giambruno added “I can really see how it is very meaningful to many seniors or students in general.” But Giambruno also believed that there are alternate ways for students to honor their teachers.
Additionally, Giambruno said that the logistics of making this happen for students is rather difficult. A lot more goes into the process of graduation than people suspect. There is currently a computer science student trying to create a program to smooth out issues with seating, orders of students, etc. “As soon as one issue is resolved, three more spring up in its place” said Giambruno. It will take time, but the staff is trying to make this work for seniors.
From Giambruno’s perspective, the protest the students carried out was premature.“I think that there was some jumping of the gun. The issue was still in discussion and I think the students thought that it was already in place.”
Students skipped class to protest an issue that was just a possibility. In Tania Kranzler’s fifth period class during the day of the protest, not a single student showed up.
The status of the diplomas are still being considered by the teachers and staff, who are trying to find a solution that will fit both the technical needs and wants of the students.