When it comes to yearbooks, there’s one specific section that has consistently been a school favorite — the superlatives. As we drool over last year’s hottest hottie and admire the unique blue-green shade of the class’s best pair of eyes, this section is popularly regarded as entertaining, light-hearted and frankly, extremely accurate.
Besides serving as a comedic source of amusement, senior polls often act as an area of reflection and reminiscence for past graduates. When remembering the facets of one’s high school career, it is not simply the rigorous courses and heavy studying that one remembers.
Rather, it is the culmination of Palo Alto High School culture, spirit, relationships, experiences and personalities that people cherish beyond their high school years, and the senior polls are one of the many aspects that concisely capture these social elements of the high school daily life.
The yearbook seems to do an exemplary job of capturing most of the hectic yet accomplished lifestyle of the average Palo Alto teen, there is one crucial facet of student life that seems to be missing from our yearbook — teachers and faculty. Seeing that teachers have such a monumental impact on our everyday lives, it is astounding that the only real presence they have in the yearbook is a small staff section with their school pictures. With the consolidation of staff and senior polls, teacher superlatives would remind us of all the distinctive character traits of the teachers who made us very familiar with the concept of tough love. Every day, we have countless interactions with these role models and each and every one of them have shaped our high school lives in one way or another.
Even though the years definitely do not get easier and we have our silent list of good and bad teachers, we know that at the end of the day, each and every staff member added to the Paly experience that deep down, we know we all appreciated.
So why not have teacher polls in our yearbooks? Don’t you think it is unfortunate that Mr. Olah has not gotten the award for social junkie with his witty and sarcastic tweets? If we added teacher polls to the mix, maybe he would be a little less bitter about missing out on winning a senior poll in high school.
And what about Mr. Bungarden’s snazzy ties and Ms. Park’s adorable outfits? They definitely deserve some recognition for keeping up their stylish choices every day. And of course, let’s not forget about Woj. Who else on campus gets casual phone calls from the President, has met every famous person in the book and has personal connections to every CEO in Silicon Valley? If that is not “Most Likely to Have Already Succeeded,” then what is?
Instead of just including boring pictures of each teacher that reveal almost nothing about his or her personality, interests or style, let’s start painting pictures of how we want to remember all of our staff and show our appreciation for their unique individuality. Thirty years from now, I want to be able to look back on my yearbook and remember the autonomous and defining characteristics of my teachers, which is definitely most effectively achieved through something like teacher polls.
Henry M. Gunn High School, our cross-town neighbor, is one of many schools that has incorporated teacher polls into its yearbook. Yearbook staff member and current senior Riya Antony is responsible for Staff Popularity Polls and comments on the inherent benefits of including this section in the yearbook.
“It’s important that we have Staff Popularity Polls in the yearbook to make them feel as if they’re included in all of the school activities,” Antony said. “It’s also a great way for students to come together to chose how they want to remember a certain teacher.”
Like many other students, Antony appreciates the inclusiveness of having a bigger section devoted to honoring and celebrating the incredible dedication of the staff. Even more than that, Antony enjoys the unique elements that staff polls add to the yearbook.
“It adds a lot to the yearbook because, essentially, the yearbook is something that students will keep forever as a book of memories from high school,” Antony said. “A huge part of high school are the teachers. The Staff Popularity Polls are a great way for students to collaborate and come up with ways to remember them. If a teacher was always happy and loved to laugh, they would potentially win “best laugh” and students can look back and remember the happy teacher.”
As students we have the power to recommend and encourage the Madrono staff to consider specific titles that we feel deserve recognition and are embodied on campus. According to Antony, Gunn has a wide variety of titles, including common titles such as “Best Laugh” and “Most Likely to Be Mistaken for a Student,” but also more creative titles such as “Most Sassy” and “Most Swagalicious.”
We, too, could use our Paly creativity to come up with unique and engaging titles to truly represent the ambiance of our campus, so that when we get older, we get a genuine delineation of all facets of student life, including our teachers and faculty.