In the recent past, The Vanguard and other members of our community have noticed an increase in student absences from school. Some stayed home on an icy Wednesday in early February because they did not feel safe driving in. Others elongated Presidents Day weekend to travel. Most seniors followed tradition and missed school on Senior Skip Day. Also, that day was the Patriots’ parade, when at least 61 non-seniors were absent—some because they saw Mr. Morton’s email about attendance protocol during special events and decided their presence was optional. The day before, numerous Patriots fans skipped classes to catch up on the sleep they lost celebrating the Super Bowl victory.
People opted out of January’s Community Day with comments like, “It’s a great day to sleep in” or “This is important, but not as important as my health.” People also left school before dismissal when the schedule set to accommodate One Love events last month meant formal classes were done early. Even on regular school days, incidences of students missing their last two classes because “nothing major is happening” also seem to be on the rise.
Obviously, we should be concerned.
The mentality of casual skippers in search of relaxation—and of dedicated skippers who see the 80 percent attendance requirement for course completion as an invitation to miss 20 percent of their classes—causes problems. It hinders both the absent and the present. Truants waste tuition and, more importantly, miss opportunities to learn from and engage with others. Meanwhile, with their perspectives absent in class, on group projects, and during community-building events, other students miss out on their contributions and face more work. Teachers, too, must retrace their steps to help absentees catch up when they return.
The Vanguard believes students who consider skipping must acknowledge and accept responsibility for every effect their skipping has, from the individual consequences to the consequences to the community.
This is not to say that skipping is never worthwhile. Skipping for a family commitment, for health reasons, or for a rare event might make sense. What’s important is skipping responsibly. Consider: is skipping a want or a need? Is your reason for skipping unique and immovable? Consult your values as you want them to be. If you’re thinking about skipping, ask yourself, what priority does skipping honor? Would you stand by that priority?
We also need to think through the consequences of skipping. How will it affect us academically, emotionally, and socially? How will it affect others? Will it solve any problems or just create more? We have all chosen to be at this school, and we should value the idea of committing to it, showing up, and participating. We should value the idea of exchange—of giving and not just taking, and of serving, not just being served. In a community, there’s value in being present.