The slump of senioritis

Senior apathy, senior slack, senior slump and senioritis. They all mean the same thing -- a malady that seems to strike most graduating seniors sometime during their last year of high school.

Senioritis is identified by educators and students as the letdown many seniors experience as graduation nears. Staying motivated until the end is tough for many.

Symptoms of senioritis can begin as early as fall quarter, but for most who suffer from it, the ailment becomes full blown during spring. Signs include lack of concentration during class, homework assignments left uncompleted, and social activities becoming more important as students say goodbye to friends and get ready to move on.

"My senior year has been a lot of fun, but I am waiting for the end of the year," said South Whidbey senior Andrew Dorn this week. "The last couple of months it has been hard to concentrate and care about anything except getting out of here.."

Senioritis is recognized by educators as a problem. South Whidbey High School Principal Mike Johnson acknowledges that senioritis does exist and that the staff is very aware of it.

"The main way to handle senioritis is to keep school running in the most normal fashion possible, to keep the routine going," he said.

While senioritis often sounds like a running joke every school year, the grip it takes on students can hurt a senior's chances of graduating. If it starts early in the year, it can mean the difference between graduating and going to summer school.

Senior J.J. Edwards said she has stayed focused all year because she had previously dropped out of South Whidbey High School. This year, she's leaving South Whidbey as a graduate.

"I wanted to graduate this year, so I stayed with it," said Edwards.

Maintaining interest in school during senior year seems to be one of the factors that stave off the symptoms associated with senioritis. Stephanie Jacobson said she is looking forward to the end of the year, but is mindful of her goal -- to graduate and move on to being a freshman next fall at Knox College in Illinois.

"You just have to stay focused, and not let it take over," she said. "Don't be stupid, academics are important up to the end of the year," she said. Jacobson has been accepted at Knox College in Illinois.

The senioritis outbreak of 2002 could have been worse. Principal Johnson said Northwest weather has been a factor in the amount of senioritis in this year's senior class. Cool, overcast spring weather has kept the students on task. But every day the sun shines as the year winds down, he can see student's minds slip away to other things.

"I have not seen the intense senioritis that normally haunts the campus at

SWHS during the spring," Johnson said.

But with temperatures rising and the end of the school year right around the corner, the symptoms of senioritis may become more obvious. One of those symptoms is the inevitable "senior skip day," which was unofficially scheduled for last Friday. Johnson said students who don't come to school on senior skip day are considered truant and will receive normal school discipline for the violation of school rules.

Almost every senior asked about how he or she deals with the lethargy associated with the end of their high school careers has a different answer. Keasha Campbell says her senioritis antidote has playing softball. Rachele Reding, another senior, said -- strangely enough -- that attending school keeps her mind off the end of the year.

"There really is nothing else to do here, so I prefer coming to school to see friends and stay busy," she said.

This year as in the past, South Whidbey High School teachers alert students to the possibility of senioritis. Some students say they have to work constantly at keeping their minds on school. Senior Samantha Chin said she had to "buckle down" to keep up with her classwork.

"You can't help experiencing some of it," Chin said.

Patrick McFee, another senior, is one of the students who was prepared for senioritis. He said he worked through it.

"It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be," he said.

Some students said their teachers also helped keep them out of senioritis trouble, though others disagree. Chin said she believes her teachers have been more lenient the closer graduation comes. Edwards disagreed.

"It's a matter of what classes you have the last quarter," said Smith.

Though the school has a number of activities for our senior students to celebrate the end of their school careers, like the June 14 senior picnic, Mike Johnson said he doesn't see a real cure for senioritis.

"I think as the end draws near for our students and they can see the light at the end of the tunnel, it is just natural to be excited about moving on."

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