To the Editor:
Upon learning that we had been nominated for Senior Superlatives, a supposed recognition of our unique accomplishments, we had mixed feelings. Our initial response to these nominations was one of gratitude, as we had been selected for only positive superlatives. After talking to one another about the tradition, however, we became unsure whether it is a positive and constructive activity for the Senior class.
It goes without saying that Senior Superlatives have been around a long time. They have held a prominent place in our yearbook for many years. But because we pride ourselves on maintaining custom, we struggle to recognize when our traditions cause more harm than good.
The catalyst for our thinking has been the campus-wide discussion around community values and aspirations. In a community with “equity and inclusion” at the heart of its Strategic Plan, we must actively consider the ramifications of our actions. The Senior Superlatives are neither equitable nor inclusive in the way they stratify the Senior class. There are only enough superlatives for a small group of Seniors, so that group then becomes distinct and exclusive. Not only is the creation of this group unnecessary, it is the product of a meaningless popularity contest. We wonder why a tradition that represents inequity and exclusion continues as a central part of our yearbook.
The Senior Superlatives also challenge our commitment to “empathy and balance,” the Strategic Plan language connoting concerns about health and wellness. Those who were not nominated for superlatives might feel excluded or unappreciated; those who were nominated for dubious distinctions might experience stress over how they are viewed by their peers and struggle with how to respond to the nominations. This unnecessary anxiety is one we could easily eliminate from Andover’s already extremely competitive atmosphere.
Careful consideration and a desire to act in accordance with community values has led us to decline our Senior Superlatives. While we do not expect all other nominees to do the same, we do invite them to think critically about this tradition and its place in our community.
We also invite our peers to write to us with their thoughts on this issue. What are possible alternatives to the Senior Superlative tradition? After all, we deserve traditions that purely, inclusively and painlessly celebrate every awesome person in the Senior class.
John Gorton ’15
Rebecca Somer ’15