Grade segregation persists in Commons

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Seniors confronting a freshman on their vent. (Photo Illustration: Eli Lord/WSPN)

For as long as Wayland High School students can remember, there have been clearly defined sections for each grade in the cafeteria, known as the Commons.

Many students say that it can be uncomfortable to sit with people not in the same grade. Peer pressure is common at many schools, and Wayland is no exception.

“You feel pressure because other people aren’t in your grade,” said James Park, a freshman.

Sophomore Colleen Mullen said,“If you sit on the senior vent, seniors glare at you.”

However, some students don’t mind the grade-segregated commons.

“It doesn’t really bother me because it’s by grade and by choice,” explained freshman David Coutu.

“It doesn’t bother me at all because it doesn’t matter if you sit in the freshman section,” said Jason Goodman, a sophomore.

Brett Baker, a senior, had his own explanation as to why the commons segregation plays out the way it does. He believes that grade segregation naturally happens because people want to sit with people in their own grade because they know each other better.

Although he feels no pressure on the matter as a senior, he did admit that when he was a junior, he felt more pressure to stay in the junior section. This indicates that grade segregation in the commons could just be a power play.

Laura Huizinga, a French teacher, added, “It’s a power thing. [Brett] has the power to do that because he’s a senior, but the freshmen can’t do that, right?”

Although most students do recognize this distribution of power, it doesn’t seem to faze them. Sophomore Jonathan von Mering said, “I go wherever the wind takes me; I don’t pay such things any mind.”

Many students agree with this idea; they feel the power play doesn’t affect where they eat. However, not everyone is fine with pressure to sit only in their designated area.

“I feel we should sit wherever we want,” said Barbara Raphael, a junior.

Huizinga shared this sentiment. “Kids who want to sit wherever they want should be able to,” she said. “When I first started to teach here, someone told me this is where the freshmen sit, this is where the sophomores sit… etc. They told me that right away.”

When asked if something should be done about the segregation, 65% of surveyed students replied no.

“If it causes problems, it should be changed,” Park said.

Coutu agreed, adding, “I think it’s fine the way it is. I personally don’t believe that there are many complaints.”

Editor’s Note: Grade segregation in the Commons is a topic of discussion at Wayland High School year after year. What are your experiences? Should the grade divisions be abolished, or is it no big deal?