Last year I gave up. I am the first to admit it. Upon entering a school year that arguably could be the most important, I came in ready to do nothing. The teachers were going to assign homework, well I was only going to do enough work to pass. No texting in school, well I was going to find a way to text as much as possible. Keep your mind focused on schoolwork and SAT studying, nope, no thank you. I thought of parties, boys, and ways to piss off the school. I was done. Now I am also first to admit that that is a wrong way of going about almost everything. But I believed I was proving a point.
As a seasoned Waring-ite I have a pretty decent understanding of the ins and outs of being a student here. I know what to bring on camping trip and I know how to time just right the chorus bathroom breaks. Yet, last year all this knowledge on how Waring functions led me to some negative conclusions about myself but also about the school. Favoritism is a thing here, and I wasn’t a favorite.
One student (writing on condition of anonymity) says: “…because our teachers are in many cases also our friends, those students and teachers who are likeminded tend to have a much more powerful connection than those with different interests…Oftentimes I think this aspect of Waring… can become favoritism. I have certainly seen several instances in which a teacher has shown not anger but annoyance towards a student who had only the best intentions, but [did not have] that connection. That type of behavior is unacceptable.”
Meg Graves notes: “I think favoritism is something that affects everyone whether they admit it or not, and it’s something that really needs to be addressed. Even if people [who are favored] don’t want to admit that they are favorites, unless they are totally clueless they know that it’s an issue at Waring.” Now these are just a couple opinions, and I know that each student has their own perspective and notion. But most of us can agree that it is a widespread phenomenon.
Lastly, Audrey Buczko says: “Favoritism can become a problem at Waring because everyone is so close. It can create unhelpful tension not only between classmates but between parents and teachers.”
Favoritism is not a subject of public debate (though it really should be) here at Waring, but it has been something that I have struggled with every year here; and last year I decided to give up. “I’m not a favorite,” I thought, “well okay I won’t put any hard work into everything that you ask me to do.”
Now of course in hindsight I am able to understand the huge flaws in my plan, but at the beginning of junior year I was not able to do so. Not only did my decision to disengage disrespect my teachers, but it also disrespected the entire school. But, I believed I was proving a point. Favoritism doesn’t only affect the favorites, but a lot of the times it can leave the unchosen to be a little bitter, especially if the same chosen few get picked again and again.
For me I noticed favoritism really early on coming into the school. The favorites were chosen in the core years. Who was the math person? The sports? The artistic one? But as I progressed through the school I felt the notion of favoritism become more apparent. Once I reached high school, I (and others) began to notice a pattern of the same five or six or students being picked over and over. TA-ships, chaperoning, field trips, and so on and so forth, were seemingly given to the same batch of students each year. Now I am not trying to yell at the school. Favoritism is a way of dealing with a whole student body of worthy kids. But I am trying to call out to the people who don’t believe they are favorites—people who are like I was, who are getting a little discouraged, because I know there are some.
Giving up isn’t the way to prove yourself. In fact it made me worse off: upon entering senior year, I was burdened with having to prove myself once again. But I encourage a student not to take the choices of the people around you completely personally. There will be times in your life that you are picked—that you will be appreciated, loved—for that I am certain. If that doesn’t happen at Waring I know it will happen somewhere. But I urge you not to let your work or commitment to school suffer. I am not trying to argue the existence of favoritism; I am merely trying to persuade the ones who believe already that they should not let it get the better of them. Don’t let other people’s choices define you.
This year I felt I had to apologize to the teachers I disrespected last year; I have had to take the ACT’s for the third time; and I have had to work harder at school than any other previous year. These are consequences I have had to face in light of my giving up. The point I was trying to prove, in the end, just hurt me. I have found that I can love this school, even if I am not a favorite. But I can also love the school and want it to be better than it is now.
Artwork by Asher Leahy