Threatened with cancellation year after year, the Senior Superlatives have endured because of student willpower. Superlative supporters claim reasons such as “They’re fun. They’re harmless. Nobody’s getting hurt.” A longstanding tradition at Andover, Senior Superlatives give our graduating class the chance to vote for other Seniors for titles such as “Most Likely to Rule the World,” “Sleepless Senior” and “Class Mom/Dad.” Even as a Junior, however, I can see problems with these labels. While Senior Superlatives are humorous and well-intentioned, they are inherently reductive epithets that some students may not want to have imposed on them.
Even the most innocuous superlatives may still carry unwelcome associations for certain students. Take, for example, “Class Curve Breaker.” While most students would not see any problem with a label essentially synonymous with “smart,” Seniors nominated for the superlative may not want their entire Andover career to be diminished to just their accomplishments in the classroom. In addition, they may be uncomfortable with bearing a title that connotes ruining the grading scale for the rest of their class.
Seniors may feel the same discomfort for nominations for superlatives such as “Done Andover for the Most” and “Most Likely to Appear in a Reality TV Show” — titles that similarly characterize one specific aspect of a student. While I applaud “Pot Pourri” for retiring the superficial superlatives of “Trophy Wife/Husband” and “Most Swag,” labels still present, such as “Best Genes for Breeding,” continue to reduce nominees to just their outward appearance.
Of course, many students would be honored to be recognized with a superlative and would readily accept a designation like “Class Curve Breaker” or “Best Genes for Breeding.” This is understandable, as Senior Superlatives give students a way to stand out, and I feel that I cannot advocate for the removal of Senior Superlatives because so many students enjoy them. Not all superlatives are negative either; superlatives such as “Done the Most for Andover” and “Most School Spirit” are an encouraging and fun way to celebrate the class’s achievements.
Nevertheless, “Pot Pourri” should offer a way for students uncomfortable with their nominations to opt out before the final survey is released. This would not be difficult: the staff could email nominees beforehand to ask if they accept their nomination. If not, another Senior could be placed on the list instead, accommodating uneasy students without removing Senior Superlatives altogether. Being publically nominated for a superlative that one deems insulting or undesirable is unnecessarily hurtful, especially when the nominee does not have the opportunity to opt out before the entire grade sees their nomination.
With this year’s Senior Superlatives survey coming to a close, I hope that Andover will make changes to this beloved tradition in the future to avoid alienating members of its Senior class in this well-meaning attempt to commemorate it.
_Adrienne Zheng is a Junior from Hong Kong, China._