Friday, August 31, 2007

Freshman Friday and The Dance

Well, the events of Freshman Friday, (aside from the girls' water polo team's interesting accessories) were about as climactic as opening a pair of socks for your birthday. No one I know got egged, or water ballooned, or even pushed around. The worst was a few seniors yelling at the 7th per. freshman PE class to run faster. In fact, the uneventfulness was slightly disappointing. Oh well. Maybe the seniors will take us by surprise on Tuesday.

The number of people buying dance tickets was slightly more impressive. There was a decent sized crowd outside the Student Center at lunch, and although I didn't collect opinions from very many of them, I'm sure the allure of "a dance under the stars" was appealing.

Among those who did not plan on going to Paly at 7:30pm, reasons were fairly standard. The "I don't know how to dance" argument held its place as the most common, but "I'm going to play video games instead" was pretty high up there. One student said, "My boyfriend doesn't want to go, so there's no point." Other answers were more rational, like the facts that going to a dance with students three years older might seem intimidating to the average freshman. That the dance was on Freshman Friday decreased the appeal to freshmen as well. Then, there was the question of whether the dance was simply scheduled too early in the year. A student with this view replied that she didn't know enough people yet to want to go to a social function with 200 of them.

Those who bought tickets, have a great time at the dance!
And those who didn't, I hope you get to a new level on your favorite video game.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Freshman Orientation: Don't Go on The Deck.

I was looking forward to Freshman Orientation as a chance to get my schedule, meet my teachers, catch up with friends, and get to know Paly a little better. Unfortunately, Freshman Orientation seemed not so much a welcome to new students but a warning that the seniors are the bosses and everybody else better get used to it.

That's not to say that the orientation was a waste of time. I definitely know my way around campus better, I talked with some friends, I got my schedule, and I registered my lock. However, the main points of the presentation in the theater seemed to be, "Freshmen: stay off the deck, don't ask seniors for help because they'll throw eggs at you, and have a great time!"

Paly is, as ASB president Mohammed Abid proclaimed, "One of the best schools in the nation." Why, then, should any member of our senior class see fit to engage in such activities as lobbing raw eggs at students whose only crime is not having previously attended Paly? The often grunted reply of "Tradition" hardly constitutes an excuse.

It is of course, possible that the small percentage of seniors who chose to participate in orientation do not accurately represent the dispositions of the rest of the senior class, or they may grow more mature as the year progresses.

I can't wait to observe the events (or lack thereof) of Freshman Friday, and to see if the senior class is really as formidable as they profess themselves to be.

Orientation Poll: Do you like Paly's historic but aging campus, of would you rather have a brand new campus with modern buildings?

Do Paly's 88-year-old buildings change with the times? Can a group of buildings that were, 88 years ago, the center of higher education in Palo Alto, still represent that place of learning? Would students be happier with a cluster of more modern buildings?

"This looks too much like Stanford," said one freshman, perhaps hinting that he doesn't want this to feel too much like college yet. Others agreed. "I'd rather it was new and modern."
Of course, the issue of overcrowded high schools has prompted a possible solution including building a smaller, specialized high school, with a focus on performing arts, international studies, or environmental studies, among other options. A new school does give the impression of teaching material that is also new and up to date.

Predictably, many other students like Paly's unique buildings. Two seniors said they liked all the history Paly held.
"The tower building is really cool," said another freshman.
"I think it's cute. It's more authentic," two others agreed.

Still others couldn't care less. "Who really cares what the buildings look like?" a freshman tossed over her shoulder.

Whatever your opinion on the subject, Paly's buildings provide a certain atmosphere, one part very Californian and laid back, another deeper and more complex. If a new high school is built, it will be interesting to see if its style mirrors that of historic Paly, cement block Gunn, or a new, more modern building style.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Why do you only think of good summer projects two days before school starts?

After a summer of playing the Sims 2, watching stupid TV shows, swimming, maybe traveling, shopping, and otherwise "just hanging out", you can at least look back upon your summer activities as "mentally preparing youself for the start of school." Then, on Sunday, August 25, it hits you. Bam! "I should have--" a) redone my room. b) learned how to do that new trick on my skateboard. c) made a movie about the squid in Monterey Bay. d) gone to Monterey. e) learned to surf. f) finished writing that novel. Alas, you have done none of these things. You may not even have known about the Humboldt squid invading Monterey Bay because of warming Pacific waters. Instead, you sigh, go to that one last summer barbecue, and try not to think of all those lost opportunities, consoling yourself with the fact that, unnervingly soon, you won't have time to mourn a wasted summer. Besides, there's always Winter Break.