Bubble Trouble

When one goes to a school like Phillips Academy, there is always that universal thought of the “real” high school experience. Sometimes, a large population of teenagers like ours can only mutually define the high school experience by the media and our friends from home. Do we Phillipians ever get the opportunity to familiarize ourselves with late-night rides to nowhere or loud house parties? The answer for most of us is no. Yoni Gruskin introduced this topic in his Phillipian article on May 18, 2007. As a follow up, I would like to congratulate this graduated Senior. Though he is gone, he left behind more than a few memories with former Nathan Hale girls. The funny thing is how late I am reading his old article. It is among the many Phillipian issues I’ve kept but never thoroughly read. It all came to me one warm summer afternoon in my hometown of New York. Reading through this specific article in late August, I was emotional. While reading Yoni’s article about students here never being able to get the “normal” high school experience, my eyes couldn’t water fast enough. Did we all sign ourselves up to go to an institution where the goal is success at all costs and teenage fun is truly optional? Yes we did, no matter how depressing it sounds. Do not misunderstand me. I know there are the few who can afford to have illegal fun on campus, risking what they academically worked for to stay here. But what about the others who want to have some “fun” without breaking school rules? There is a sliver of hope for us. Andover does try to plan entertaining events. However, all that does not measure up to any experiences our friends at home are facing, whether reckless or not. As Yoni bluntly put it, “Most American teenagers don’t go to their school library every weeknight to socialize.” Our ideas of enjoyable activities have to be confined within the ever-present Andover bubble. This infamous bubble traps us not necessarily on campus but in our minds. From day one, we are told the rules and given a Blue Book. Perhaps there was a restaurant out of town that you wanted to indulge at. To go, you would need car permission and a day excuse before even grabbing your credit card. Or how about a sleepover at a local boarder’s house? Try an overnight pass two days in advance or forget about it. Without reprimanding the school for its strategically-made precautions, it goes without saying that impulsiveness is out the window or bubble in this case. Being a typical high school student should not be all about academic work and perfecting resumes for Ivy Leagues. Sometimes, it should be about taking the initiative and being spontaneous. Then again, are we really typical high school students? Phillips Academy is a wonderful school that blesses us with its willful teachers, great facilities and endless opportunities to find the right activity for one’s needs. With such great surroundings, maturing quickly is all part of the scenery. As young adults arriving, we are given the materials needed to prepare us for those colleges waiting for our applications and our future careers as prosperous leaders. We came in knowing the fun would be limited and permission would always have to be granted, right? It is not like we were not warned of the workload and great expectations that would be demanded of us. We go through all this so that in our prime years, we will be rewarded for our labor. But are we losing out on the “best years of our lives?” That is certainly not for anyone to decide for another. “June 3 will inevitably mark the end of a chapter in the lives of all Seniors. I just hope that we have not written the wrong story,” Yoni stated at the end of his article. It makes you think about whether we should miss out on the “traditional” high school experience in order to create a healthier one of our own. Maybe we do not need to master drinking contests or lying to our parents to go to a party at the ripe age of 16. Maybe we should take our limited Andover experiences with a smile and not question it because in the end, our experiences will not be in the same league as friends at home because our schools are not even in the same systems. It seems almost wrong to speak up and address this without having a façade of ungratefulness to go along with it. But I will not stop. Though I’m fortunate to go here, will I pay later when I am trying to remember the crazy nights I had at the library? Unfortunately, I cannot decide this for anyone else but me. This school we call our own is giving us the tools to expand our minds and souls, but is there something missing in our survival kit? Personally, I am trying to find ways to have fun without the possibility of getting busted for who-knows-what. If only I could get through the walls of this damned bubble. Oh well. At least there is always college.