By Zemerluan Meehan
The 2016-2017 school year has been a tumultuous one, marked thus far by a plethora of inconvenient and disruptive fiscal crises, which have since been laid to rest by decisive action of the Chicago Teachers’ Union, narrowly averting a strike that would have thrown the rest of the year out of whack.
But as the academic year slowly returns to its painfully slow crawl, many seniors of the class of 2017 have begun to feel the heat, as Early Action/Decision deadlines loom in the distance. If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen, as they say, and that’s just what many seniors have elected to do this year.
Instead of resigning themselves to the brutal slog that is the college application process, they’ve simply decided to abandon that to pursue other, more worldly interests. Without the incessant nagging of an unfinished application and a dozen supplemental essays, seniors seem to be taking the time to enjoy what they love to do, to the surprise of the administration and greater student body.
The three large empty cups of Intelligentsia coffee replaced with three home runs on the diamond, seven hours’ worth of essays become seven watercolors. It is surprising to see such vigor and gusto come from the class, which, traditionally, has been drained and lifeless. However, the administration is not as pleased.
Since many students are foregoing college applications en masse this year, CPS, and notably Walter Payton, will suffer a hit in the presentability of their all-important college acceptance statistics. To prevent this absolute catastrophe, the administration is trying every trick in the book to get students to get their noses back on the grindstones and heads out of the clouds. Promises of cleared attendance records, threats of detention being re-instated, and off-campus lunch privileges revoked are just some of the myriad methods many schools, as well as Payton, are desperately trying so as to save their image. Nothing’s worked yet.
Tasting the freedom of time spent on something that one loves, seniors couldn’t care less. They could wait for next year. After all, it’s not like college is going anywhere anytime soon. The pursuit of happiness is looking a little bit too attractive to ignore. Administration finally cracked over the week, pooling the rest of their resources (including a hefty chunk of the budget) into hiring young college interns to complete the application for students.
The projected statistical drop in college admissions for Walter Payton and CPS as a whole would just be too great to afford. Hiring young, exhausted English majors to write college essays for high schoolers, while illicit, is a risk that the Board of Education sees as necessary and calculated. After all, college kids have done it once before already. The unorthodox situation is further expounded upon by Jeff B. Dunne, college intern: “Yeah, well, I mean, it’s kind of funny, really, how, like, all of these seniors are having a better time than we ever did during our senior year, and they’re just waiting for the next year to apply for college. I get that, like, it’s a lot of pressure and stress for pretty much no reason, primarily because the application process is complex and awful, but you can’t just have seniors actually enjoying themselves during the academic year! It’s not fair to us. We had to suffer through it, why don’t they have to?”
The irony of the situation is not lost on Dunne: “It’s interesting how we’ve done this once before, yet here we are again, doing the same thing to appease a few CPS principals who, to be quite frank, are only even here to smile and hand students diplomas. Wait, hold on, are we even getting paid minimum wage for this? One sec, lemme go make sure I’m not doing this for free.”
As deadlines across the board grow ever closer, and seniors show no sign of taking any interest, it’ll be up to the bleary-eyed, grumbling college interns to save the statistical integrity of Payton’s college acceptance rate by destroying the school’s actual integrity. Will this bold plan pay off for the administration?
Only time will tell.