The Lake Park Perspective

The Student News Site of Lake Park High School

The Lake Park Perspective

The Lake Park Perspective

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Seniors Daring to “Ditch” Should Own Their Consequences

A rite of passage for every senior is the infamous senior ditch day. Every year, seniors all over the nation plan to wreak havoc on their schools by missing the same day of school.

In recent years, with the scheduling of the PSAT/NMSQT in October, seniors have unofficially taken the opportunity to make a 5-day weekend for themselves.

This is made possible with Monday’s observance of Indigenous Peoples’ Day and the senior non-attendance day on Wednesday of that week. Skipping class on that Tuesday would make for 5 full days off.

Ditch days are not a foreign concept to teachers, who themselves admit to partaking in the tradition. Mr. Donald Fulmer, Curriculum Leader of the history department, joked about his own past “…back in the 1930s when it was only one ditch day second semester.”

In seriousness, he acknowledged that spring ditch day has been a traditional “ditch day” in Lancerland for decades.

Within the first semester alone there were multiple rumored “ditch days” discussed openly on social media. This comes as senior attendance has been an issue of administrative concern, affecting classroom instruction and taking a toll on education.

Attendance is of great importance to any school. It is a factor in determining a school’s ranking in news publications and affects funding received for opportunities that a school like Lake Park is able to grant.

WC Principal Dr. Ellett said, “Our attendance data last year was really poor, especially for seniors, so we need to collectively work to make it better.”

Leading up to the PSAT/NMSQT administration date and becoming aware of rumors, Dr. Ellett emailed staff, students, and parents, discouraging them from participating in or encouraging the “ditch day.”

“There’s something that has happened where both students and families are supporting multiple ditch days. Ditch days have never been school sponsored.” Dr. Ellett said. “Now it seems to be a student generated ‘we’re going to do this once a month,’ so I’m encouraging staff to make it a little more difficult for students to miss class.”

But are students missing the point? Are students at Lake Park even ditching correctly?

Dr Ellett had the same question. “Traditionally, with a ditch day, you take the consequence; but this is more, ‘I’m having mom or dad call in and say I have a doctor’s appointment,’” Dr. Ellett said.

“So it’s more like just taking a day off of school and it takes away from the essence of what it should be. If you’re going to have a ditch day in spring, do it and do it right by facing the consequences, knowing that the school does not endorse these days.”

These consequences include having an unexcused absence which prevents students from being able to make up an assignment.

Students have a wide range of arguments to justify their “ditch days.” A primary reason is tradition. But at Lake Park, the October ditch day is a relatively new one and has been promoted amongst students for only the last few years.

Some seniors argue they need it as higher level coursework compounds the college application process and the fast-approaching November first deadline.

Marina DeSantis (LP ‘24) said, “The ditch day gave me ample time to catch up on my college applications. I work several days a week and my AP classes give me tons of homework. The ditch day was able to relieve the stress of school I was feeling.”

But are Monday and Wednesday not enough time to catch up? And are all Lancers using that ditched day to work on college applications?

Julian Krolikowski (LP ‘24), for example, noted that on the ditch day, “I relaxed and took it as a day to catch up on sleep.”

If students need to take a day to work on college applications, catch up on sleep, or literally anything else, they can. Effective January 1st, 2022, the Illinois State Board of Education Public Act 102-0321 allots five mental health days during the school year for each student to take advantage of.

We recognize the stress seniors feel with their extreme workload. We feel it too. Students, seniors especially, have legitimate needs, and mental health days have a purpose.

But when a sizable portion of the student body is absent all on the same day, curriculum and instruction is severely disrupted, making Tuesday feel like a waste of a day for teachers and students alike.

The messages Dr. Ellett sent stated that the ditch day was a poor academic decision and students should not choose to engage or be allowed or encouraged to do so.

“I am also not in favor of any type of extra credit or bonus just for being in class as every day should be valued,” Dr. Ellett said. She said her message to parents was well received as evidenced by parent emails and communications.

Tradition should remain tradition; there is little to no harm with the one and only ditch day in the spring. However, issues arise when the annual event becomes a monthly event that is actively affecting student education.

If a student chooses to ditch then they should be ready to face the consequences.


Senior Editors Julia Kamysz (LP ‘24), Maya Krolikowski (LP ‘24), and Philip Sullivan (LP ‘24) are primarily responsible for this piece. Additional contributions by the entire Perspective Staff.

The Perspective is committed to publishing a diversity of opinion on its editorial page. Students, staff and administration are welcome to share ideas and opinions about issues relevant to the Lake Park community as well as the stories we cover through letters to the editor. The Perspective reserves the right to edit letters for clarity or brevity. 

Letters can be emailed to our staff advisor, Mr. Mike Bundalo, at [email protected].

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