By the end of high school, I wanted to be a journalist.
Having decided on a career path – a goal in life (Thank God! Now everyone will stop asking) – I pursued this with determination and became the editor of my High School newspaper.
This, among other things, gave me a platform from which to fight the power!
What did this mean at a suburban high school in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada in the late 1990s?
Mostly? I wrote a series of editorials, some of which pissed off people including the principal.
Every now and then the Head Boy (our term for Co-Class President because we also had a Head Girl. Yeah.) would come ’round to give me a collegial talkin’ to. Or the Teacher Advisor on the paper would tell me she’d had to back me up at a meeting with the principal, hinting all the time that she was “scolding” me that she completely agreed with me.
So, in honour of #Throwback Thursdays, I’d like to share a bit of writing from my younger years. Baby Gates Down at Eighteen!
When I was bright-eyed; idealistic; and ready to right the wrongs of the world!
Here, I give you my editorial from the October 1995 Edition of Hawk Talk, where I weigh in on my high school administration’s decision to assign seating at school assemblies; rather than let people sit all willy-nilly beside their friends.
By way of quick context for what comes below: back in the day in Ontario, we had five years of high school – the final being the optional OAC (Ontario Academic Credit), or Grade 13 year, that everyone university-bound had to do.
as published in
October, 1995 – Hawk Talk
I’d like to introduce myself as the 13D owner of seat G-12. Greetings and salutations to the 13C owner of this same seat. Scanning the auditorium, if the administration does not see two people in this seat at all assemblies this year, they will know that something is wrong with the system!
It seems that our school is becoming more and more regimented. We cannot sit quietly at our lockers between classes, many grads are not able to have lockers in the Grad Hall for fear it will become too crowded (Heaven forbid! Students at a school!) and now we have assigned seats in the auditorium.
Many people fail to see the benefits of these assigned seats. As I’m sure that all changes done by the administration are an attempt to improve our education, one must look at the educational advantages of assigned seating.
Firstly, cartography was covered in homeroom as teachers and students alike tried desperately to figure out from the auditorium map where their seats were. Then came the practical exam: actually having to find your seat. I’m sure the administration will be recommending that the orienteering section of the Outdoor Ed program be covered in all homerooms as finding our seats, I’m sure, took far longer than anticipated.
Secondly, due to the fact that two homerooms were assigned the same seats, many other subjects can be taught through the self-discovery method. For instance, how do you fit two people into one chair? (Geometry) Taking the weight, density and gravitational pull of each person into account, who sits on top? (Physics) Wow! He’s cute! (Biology)
Keeping with the spirit of things, I feel we should take these first changes to the logical conclusion. Why stop with the assemblies? Perhaps we should have assigned bathrooms. Why not assigned stalls? Perhaps assigned student parking spaces (for both two and four-wheel vehicles, of course). How about assigned seats in the cafeteria? Of course, due to the number of students, we’ll have to rotate lunch hours. I suggest the following, easy to remember system: Grade nine lunch at nine, Grade ten lunch at ten, Grade eleven lunch at eleven, etc… Just think of the possibilities! This would solve the problem of litter in the halls and discourage students from loitering by their lockers.
While they’re at it, why doesn’t the administration reassign those forty-some wired shut lockers in the Grad Hall to Grads? I don’t see why not; we’re assigned to the library or the cafeteria between classes anyway, so we’re not able to spend much time there.
There are advantages not only to the students but the teachers as well. Think how much Mr. Ingram would appreciate a fully assigned audience on Music Night. Mr. Taguchi could corner you at any assembly for yearbook photos – and if not you, your empty seat. Why stop with the teachers? Tell your parents that at the next parent teacher advisory meeting they are assigned your seat in the auditorium. Have them check with 13D or 13C on how to handle the problem of two to a seat.
I am confident that through the necessary training in assigned seating given to all students graduating from Hillcrest that, although they may not have acquired a locker in the Grad Hall, they will stride forward confidently to their assigned seat in the real world.
So I suspect you want to know what happened, yes?
Did they revoke assigned seating?
Did I get a locker in the grad hall?
No. And no.
But the feedback I received – both positive and negative – indicated I made my point.
And writing for the paper – both the impact, and lack of impact, that voice provided, was a valuable experience I brought forward with me in life.