Has the senior deck lost its value?


Daniel Mendoza '21

The senior deck sits in gloomy emptiness (as often occurs throughout the day this school year) during sixth period.

Year after year, the junior class finds excitement in taking over the senior deck on the last day of school. RE alum and last school year’s student body president Preston Edmunds ‘20 noted that this day was her most memorable one on the deck⁠—one that she had dreamed of ever since her freshman year. 

“There’s this certain aura around the deck that makes it seem like the coolest place. When it’s finally your time on it, it instills a certain confidence in you,” Edmunds said.  

But this year, COVID-19 and the new STEM building brought dramatic changes to the school’s landscape, and with those changes came drastic effects on the senior deck tradition.  

One of the most notable differences about the senior deck this year lies simply in its daily use. With some seniors staying remote, others leaving campus during lunch and free periods, and the new STEM building convincing students to use its air conditioned, quiet study spaces to work, the senior deck feels increasingly empty compared to previous years.   

In a typical year, the deck is the main hangout location for seniors. Whether they use it during a free period, lunch, passing time between classes, or before and after schoolthe senior deck never fails to establish itself as the highlight of day-to-day senior life.  

The senior deck has also consistently been a symbol of unity. “It’s such a special place because the entire grade sits on it. I miss being able to go to the deck and know for a fact there was someone there I could talk to. The deck is one of the only aspects of high school where friend groups don’t matter,” Edmunds said. 

RE alum Joseph Gross ‘20 also spoke to the vitality of the senior deck to his high school experience. “It brought our grade closer together and gave the senior class a place to hang out,” Gross said. 

But now? Rather than finding over half the grade on the deck, it is not uncommon to find the deck completely empty at any given moment during the school day. Even during passing time there are only small groups of seniors quietly chatting, which comes nowhere close to replicating the usual roar of screaming, laughter, and music that typically resonates from the deck.  

Student body president Georgia Crosby ‘21 alluded to another important factor in this year’s lessened senior deck experience. She mentioned that this year there is an increasing number of juniors, as well as faculty, using the deck simply because there is a junior advisory designated to eat lunch on the senior deck. 

“It’s become less of this big rite of passage, and more of just a space that is utilized by juniors and faculty, so it has lost its appeal,” Crosby said.  

The senior deck has lost its appeal for some, and that is due in part to social distancing restrictions. “The senior deck [usually] allows seniors to gather in a more comfortable and relaxed fashion, and social distancing definitely inhibits that cozy feeling,” Crosby mentioned.  

Social distancing rules have also prevented seniors from carrying out typical senior deck traditions. Among others, some of these traditions include ping pong, foosball, and decorating the deck for festivities such as spirit week. “Some of my most memorable moments from the senior deck include soccer tennis and spike ball during free periods,” Gross said.  

Just like Gross, seniors in the past have utilized the senior deck to back away from the academically intense school year. “Senior year is so chaotic with college applications, and the deck was sort of an escape. The deck is a safe place for seniors, and it’s hard not to be happy on it. I miss the way the deck felt like a home away from home,” Edmunds added.  

But this year, with the school’s scramble to find new spaces for advisories to eat lunch, along with the urge to cut down on common-touch surfaces, both the ping pong table and foosball table have been removed. Along with these modifications, the decreased number of seniors physically present on campus has contributed to an overall gloominess and desolation that characterizes the senior deck this year.  

Crosby has confirmed, however, that the Student Government Association is presently working on reinstituting the senior deck as the cornerstone of the senior experience. They are developing ways to encourage more festivities on campus in a safe, socially distanced manner.  

According to Crosby, one of SGA’s most promising accomplishments was a winter holiday-themed dress down day on Friday, December 11th, the second to last day of in-person classes for the first semester.  

In addition to a form of celebration for the entire school’s effort in making it through a first semester unlike any other, the occasion also served as an especially meaningful time for seniors to decorate the senior deck with winter ornaments. Everyone danced in their winter themed clothing to Christmas carols played on the deck.  

Crosby herself has also consistently lobbied the administrationfervently pleading faculty and staff to refrain from using the deck as much as possible. “They [faculty and staff] have heard us loud and clear,” Crosby said.  

Throughout the years, the senior deck has carried the tradition of embodying one of the liveliest spots on campus. “The senior deck has always been this beacon of energy,” Crosby mentioned. To keep the senior deck legacy alive, it is now up to the Class of 2021 to reestablish that vibrant energy.