By Maggie Betkowski ’21, Arts Editor
Having had our in-person junior spring cancelled, senior fall utterly bizarre, and in-person senior winter cancelled too, the last thing the Class of 2021 wants, during our last term on campus, is required PGA.
High school is supposedly the best time of our lives—but we have had almost a year of our high school experience taken away from us. I speak on behalf of the senior class when I say that the only thing we want this spring is to be able to spend time with our friends, before we all go off to our respective colleges and then begin our adult lives.
In a poll I conducted on Instagram, 73 of the 74 seniors that participated (which is more, incidentally, than attended our last class meeting) voted for having the option to take the spring off. There was also overwhelming support from underclassmen and alums.
Already, many seniors have complained about not having the option to take a season off in the fall or winter. During the winter, virtual PGA has been largely ineffective and unenjoyable. And without the option of taking the season off in the fall, many seniors struggled to study for standardized tests, finish writing college essays and supplements, and earn the best grades they could in the last term colleges would see. As we return for the spring, the last thing we need and want is another two hours of our days taken up by required programming.
Athletes and performing artists who will pursue their passion in college will choose to participate in their PGA regardless, knowing that they will continue after high school. But without competitions and performances, others struggle to find purpose in two hours of practice every day. And, as many seniors have expressed, taking the season off isn’t opting out of fitness. Most students go to the gym, run, or engage in other forms of exercise on their own, and taking the term off won’t change that.
One argument suggested by the school in favor of required PGA is that it helps students stay connected to their community. Honestly, it feels almost patronizing to be required to engage in an activity to facilitate our own connection to our peers. But more importantly, I argue, and my peers agree, that seniors will connect with each other more if we are given the opportunity to take a season off and spend time together in situations of our own creation.
Throughout the pandemic, we have stayed in touch with our friends despite the distance, with social media, as well as group FaceTimes or Zoom calls. If we want to stay connected to each other, we will—we do not need the assistance of required PGA. After being online for the past year, we won’t take for granted the little time we have left together.
Over the past year, our senior class has been very understanding of the situation and open to adapting, both globally and at Mercersburg. Due to Mercersburg’s commitment to keeping students and faculty safe, we have graciously missed out on much of our senior experience. In the fall, many of our privileges were stripped away, and with little intermingling between dorms, our time to socialize increasingly diminished, especially as it began to get colder as the winter months approached.
We have had much of our most formative years stripped away from us by a pandemic bigger than any of us. In a time when almost nothing is certain, it would be comforting to know that if we return to campus in the spring, we will be able to spend much of the little remaining time with our friends before we graduate and can’t see each other often again.