When I was in seventh grade, I would wait patiently in line behind the upperclassmen (most of the time letting them go in front of me) with my Superga tennis shoes and obnoxiously big bow in my hair. I would open doors for them if we were both walking into the ARC at the same time, and I was aware of my noise level when I was near them. Where has this tradition gone? It seems that while I was paying my dues and finishing each year of school, the hierarchy has vanished into thin air.
The interactions and spirit of the lowerclassmen and the upperclassmen did not feel like hazing when I was in middle school, but rather an aura of respect, admiration, and understanding. I, like many other Marlborough students who came before me, maintained a level of respect for the seniors and juniors. We knew that they had much more work than us, so maybe they had a legitimate excuse. That’s why they needed to cut us in line. They had been studying late the night before, which is why we needed to be quiet on the bus. I also had a great admiration for these upper school students. They seemed decades older than me; driving themselves to school, drinking coffee voluntarily, and talking about issues and subjects I had never heard of before. I looked up to them, and I wanted to emulate their sophistication, grace, and tranquility.
Now that I am a junior, I still do not feel as old as the upper schoolers seemed at the time. But then again, this could be because of the large shift in the social interactions between upperclassmen and lowerclassmen. One day, as I was waiting in line in Café M (without any middle school students letting me cut them), I heard a girl ask if she could have a french fry. Since I didn’t recognize the voice, I assumed she wasn’t talking to me and I didn’t turn around. But she was talking to me? Years younger, and and about a foot shorter than me was a stranger asking me if she could have one of my french fries. I felt many things in this moment; confusion, shock, and disrespect. Why is it that I was the student who let people cut me in line and yet I wasn’t getting that same respect? I have paid my dues and yet it seems to have gotten me nowhere.
I have heard some students say that since they were loud and oblivious as seventh graders, that this is their karma. But what about those of us who paid our dues and were aware of our surroundings?
I once had a friend tell me, “You get yelled at so that one day, you can be the one yelling.” This is more of a metaphor than a direct example at Marlborough, but I thought that once I was in the upper school that I would be revered like the girls who went before me. Now I pose my question. Lowerclassmen: let’s work together to revamp the hierarchy. You try to race me to the lunch table I sit at everyday and you make music videos in very public spaces. A little social awareness and respect will go a long way. I am not asking for you to bow at my feet as I speed walk down the hall. Just make my seventh grade dream come true, and let me be the upper school queen that I have been working towards being since seventh grade.
We aren’t asking for much here; just a little respect and maybe for you to let us cut you every now and then in the caf.