Sunday, February 27, 2011

10 Days in the Life of a High School Senior

I haven't been on this blog forum since I left for a retreat. I applied, back in the Fall, to go on the retreat as a Senior leader, and got sloted as a substitute. Meanwhile, one leader took up the offer on an all-expenses weekend trip to a certain educational institute in Tennessee (Vanderbilt). This was to occur on the same weekend of the trip, and so one substitute- Al- got placed on the trip. One week before departure, the adult planners found out that more people were going on the trip than originally thought. Enter myself; so that's how it went down.

In those four days,I was unplugged. No internet connection; no cell phone tower in range. That was pretty nice. Then reality said that I was out two business days!
There was some catch-up to play; Merchant Marine Academy matters to handle; b-ball playoff games to watch (including two-hard-won matches and my first witnessed overtime success). That pulls us straight into this weekend.

On Friday, I spent the entire stretch from 7:30am to 10:40pm on campus at school save a 15-minute milkshake run before the start of the at boy-girl mixer at 8pm. Come to think of it, I was in class only to 2:45pm. After this, it was orchestra, a final physical activity for the Academy, play practice, and to get some meaning out of the next 2 hours, Vespers at the monastery, enjoying a meal with the monks, and cracking down on some homework. This was all before that aforementioned mixer. Theme: Country club. I'd say I won 3rd place in the attire category; my polo, Nautica, and neatly ironed dress khakis were a bit traditional to Sean's and Matt's argyle sweaters and pastel shirts, and chill attitude. The ratio was decent, but a number of our female guests seemed more interested in effeminate parlance between themselves than in mixing. Compared to earlier dances, companionship was a little harder won. I got what I wanted from it, and went home in high spirits. I was home a few minutes after 11pm.

On Saturday, my schedule read: r+r from mixer, Violin, lunch, shopping on the Pike (if you're from DC/MD, you'd understand), haircut, parallel parking, league playoffs. Yes, Abbey Basketball made it to the championships to play the near-invincible Cov Life. Cars filled up the three level parking structure- and that with plenty of carpooling; amazing for a high school event. The league held the event at a Gallaudet University venue, and charged us to watch the game. There were a lot of people shelling out $2 or $3 to watch; that included a healthy majority of Cov Life's student body.

Don't get me started: at halftime, my team was up by 10 healthy points. We held the lead from 2nd quarter straight though 3 minutes left. Then stuff happened. Cov Life broke loose. Some of our fans lost the Abbey's trademark classiness for a few minutes. They won on a 3-point made after an extended hold, 57-60. I sort of anticipated it, because this was the team that had chiseled out 8 points against us in the last 40 seconds in a regular season game. By the way- I didn't know that was possible. So, games shouldn't come down to the final 40 seconds. But when they do, teams typically are respectful: not messing up the opponent's foul shots by jeering, for one. Regarding this game, I never felt sick in my stomach like I did when I got home from this one. I was pacing at home past midnight, unable to sleep over my uneasiness with Cov's behavior. We've had tough losses before, but never have I witnessed such sore something-ship from a high school game. In my dreams, I relived entire plays from the game; I felt the enthusiasm of taking the second quarter as our own; then, snapping out of that dream, I realized that the game was over. Out of all of this, one point of pride for this year's Abbey Hoops is that we've never suffered a loss that was not "tough".

I spent a good 3 hours doing backlogged math packets this afternoon, but it sure feels good to be caught up with math. If I would not have been so bothered by last night's 9pm championship chutzpah, I probably wouldn't have the desire to crack down so hard on homework. Anyway, parent-teacher conferences are coming up. Backnote: I resisted the temptation to pack math homework for the retreat. That would be considered a "distraction from duty" as a Senior leader.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Media Influences School Straw Polls

For various reasons, the voting age is set for 18; no higher, no lower. It's basically a moral imperative that the age is no higher than 18, under the old-enough-to-fight, old-enough-to-vote rationale. Many believe that lowering the suffrage below 18 could not democratically happen for a laundry list of reasons. Parental coercion and influence is probably the biggest factor keeping mid-age teens from the polls. How will you ensure that the kids aren't getting paid off by Mom and Dad for adhering to conformist views?

One way we can view this influence in action is through all-school straw polls, most commonly held around Presidential election time. For the sake of this analysis, we will look at Middle and High School results (age ~11 to 18). We find that children of openly political parents are very likely to adhere to their parents' views. (This is moot if the two parents support opposing candidates!). However, this correlation is no causation.

From the sample of children of political parents, when these youngsters voted against their parents' candidate, more children of conservative parents voted for the progressive than children of liberal parents for the conservative. While youth are often by nature progressive, this natural tendency does not explain the full extent of voting trends in school straw polls.

Media geared to youth tend to be left-leaning; I call out Time's TFK publication in particular. Some networks take sides (Rupert Murdoch?), others inadvertently show support for one candidate over another, by amount of airtime and general portrayal of a candidate. If a majority of publications favor one party over another, who gets the benefit of publicity? Young people like a youthful leader, and, in recent elections, there has been no shortage of youthful Democratic candidates who have graced the covers of nationwide publications available in school libraries. For children of non-political parents, the Media seems to be the most important factor in influencing a child's opinion about a candidate.

We also have to watch out for teachers; in their course of affairs, their political views may come out in discussion of current affairs. Teachers need to make sure that their (younger) students receive a balance of political views, if such opinion does play out in the classroom.

Most importantly, though, young voters are most drawn to charismatic candidates- such as Barack Obama. In the Saint Anselm's 2008 Straw Poll, the current POTUS drew a majority of votes across all grade levels, especially in the younger grades.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Let's Thrive This Big 28

February is a short month, but for us Abbey Boys, there's a good schedule ahead:

Of course, today is the Super Bowl. Students are taking both sides; some of us hope the Steelers win on account of one notorious Latin teacher. For the record, I'm on the Steelers' side.

Feb. 10- according to the Facebook Page, the Abbey-WIS Game Away happens. One of my favorite aspects of this yearly match is the logistical side of things: how to move 150+ students, without school-provided transport, across town.
If all goes correctly, I will be a GRAD-uated driver. I plan to pick up my adult license on Tuesday (2/8). It's just a paperwork thing, but stuff happens.

In the past issue of the Priory Press, our sports reported gave a history on the Abbey-WIS rivalry. It started out with a spat over seeding in a league bracket back in 2000 or so.

There us another, more chivalric, notion that we have: a WIS kid insults an Abbey Boy. Rather than throwing fists, the two decide to settle by observing the outcome of the next WIS-Abbey B'ball game. The game ends with a tie, and WIS asks for overtime. The ref complies, and the Abbey wins. Both the Wis kid and the Abbey kid maintain that their team had won, and that was how the rivalry started.

Feb. 17-20- 2 important events happen this President's Day Weekend. Juniors and some Seniors take a Kairos Retreat. I can't reveal details, but it's a great experience. For a number of others, there is a NAIMUN- the N. American Invitational Model UN Conference at Georgetown University. For the Seniors, it's the second-to-last Conference of their High School Model UN Careers. We'll certainly put our experience to good use, saving the world in 96 hours.

TBD- the first Mixer Dance of the year. Stu Gov pulled off October's Homecoming in stellar fashion. However, the "Jersey Shore" themed dance had to be postponed twice: once on account of city plumbing work, and the next time on account of snow policy. Look forward to a Country Club-themed fete at the end of this month.