by: Sarah Grim, editor
New year, new ideas: a change in staff and rules means a clean slate, a fresh start, but after years of the same customs and expectations, even a few “new ideas” came as somewhat of a shock. Needless to say, I was a little surprised. We all were because nobody was really prepared; after all, our cozy Village tradition bubble felt just fine unpopped.
With that in mind, I sat in Shawn Mehegan’s office and prepared to ask some real questions. I hoped to gain answers on why he was making adjustments to our traditions. Among the obvious modifications is the Friday morning assembly, an addition that most directly affects the seniors who don’t have a class in the morning.
After asking Mehegan to address this topic, he replied, “I’m trying to create an atmosphere of unity in the high school. So what I’m trying to do with the Friday morning assembly is for our class body to become unified. By seniors being off campus – that’s disunifying.”
As far as punishment goes for not attending, he was unsure. Mehegan said he had “not decided yet,” but he most likely wouldn’t be giving detentions unless he noticed a pattern of absence.
“If you have that [free] first period, you can leave after that… I know there are some seniors who have planned activities, however, by seniors not coming to these things, [they’re] uninformed,” Principal Mehegan explained, “I realize that right now the way our schedule is set up, and seniors being off campus, that is difficult. So my kind of halfway is asking you to come to this, and you can leave after that.”
Senior, Nathan Pait, the student body president, gave his input on what he thought of the assemblies and Mehegan’s “halfway.”
“Well, it really doesn’t affect me because I have a first period A day and B day,” Pait said. “I can see how it could be aggravating for people that don’t have a first period on those days, but at least you don’t have to stay here, and I don’t know a better time to do it. As student body president – as far as getting information out there – I like it. Time will tell; I don’t really have an opinion yet.”
One thing that Pait had formed an opinion on was the dismissal of the senior walk-in at chapel.
“The walk-in was something that I don’t necessarily think should have been thrown out altogether. We could look at it and make it more fun for everybody, not just the seniors,” Pait said. “I think it was awkward the way it was, when we just had the seniors walking in, a death march in total silence. I think if you played some kind of music in the background, had a bit of energy – it could have been fun.”
Mehegan’s view, based on what he had heard from both the students and teachers was different.
“I understand that it was somewhat of a tradition that was started,” he said, “but I feel like it’s putting [the seniors] too much up on a pedestal. Our focus is to worship, not for us to say ‘look at the seniors,’ and it comes back to us being unified as a school.”
At this point, I felt myself begin to soften towards the idea of change. I wanted the whole senior experience, and the walk-in was something I always dreaded doing, but desired to be a part of. Now, with this new insight, I understood exactly where he was coming from and started to embrace the “unity” he sought for the school.
Another large part of his “unified” theme was the reinstated VCA jacket rule, put back in the handbook to have a cohesive appearance in the community.
“The likelihood (no pun intended) of us changing that, probably won’t happen because we tried it and the student body didn’t do well with it,” he stated.
Mehegan is open to options, however, and clarified that all of the additions could again be amended if necessary.
“I definitely want to take suggestions from students and we can take a look,” he said.
“Coming outside, looking in, there’s a lot of disunity,” Mr. Mehegan began, “I’ve come in the middle of something that’s already been put in place that I don’t think, necessarily, is effective… There are changes this year… with change, you’ve got to give change a chance.”
Initially, I was hesitant towards the new ideas in place. At a small, private school where people feel more comfortable with traditions as predictable as the tides, even a small wave makes a ripple. Yet, after talking honestly and openly with Mehegan, I understand that his intentions are pure and focused on god-oriented goals. He aspires to grow the school and refocus on Village’s mission, starting from the inside of the student body.
Yes, our cozy Village tradition bubble felt just fine unpopped, but not all change is bad. Maybe this year, we could make a change for the good.