Seniors Ditch Despite Financial Losses


On Monday, May 21, a majority of Miramonte’s class of 2012 did not report to some or all of their classes as a part of “senior ditch day.”
Traditionally, high school seniors pick a day of school to ditch towards the end of their second semester. What these students may not realize is that their absences cost the school thousands of dollars.

“I fully understand the tradition of it,” Principal Adam Clark said. “I understand that it’s something the kids look forward to and all that, but their actions have effects on other people besides just themselves.”

As a part of the Acalanes Union High School School District, Miramonte receives funding based on its average daily attendance.
The annual ditch day draws students out of class, ultimately resulting in thousands of dollars in lost funds. This year, administrators approximate roughly 75 percent of seniors participated.

“That large number of kids missing out on school—whether their parents called or not—costs us a considerable amount of money,” Clark said. “I’ve heard estimates around $10,000.”

Although many Miramonte seniors embrace the ditch day tradition regardless of the monetary loss, there were still several who chose to come to school. Some students were sensitive to the impact their presence had on the school and showed up simply to show their support.

“I decided to go to school because the administration loses a lot of money from all of the cuts,” senior Michelle Lee said. “Also, if I left, who would keep everyone’s seats warm?”

Other seniors were encouraged by their parents to attend, in the interest of appealing to teachers.

“My parents made me go to school because I already had a lot of absences and was missing more school later in the week,” senior Jackson Haley said. “They also told me that teachers really appreciate it when kids come to school on senior skip day and often give out extra credit. There were only six kids in my Economics class and three in English.”

Although there is little the administration can do to prevent ditching, they can provide incentives for showing up to school.

One approach many teachers take is to assign a test, lab, or other important in-class project on the ditch day. Students with unexcused absences are given zeros, and those signed out by a parent are given a harder makeup assignment than the one given in class.

Biology teacher Sharat Gadde for example, used this technique to encourage attendance.

“Mr. Gadde assigned a big lab on senior skip day, and everyone who didn’t do it in class that day got a zero,” senior Heidi Homma said. “I was planning on going but accidentally slept in, and I was the only senior in my class not there.”

Other teachers will offer easy points to everyone who comes to class.

“My teacher gave everyone 10 points of extra credit for confirming the date of a group debate presentation later this month,” one Miramonte senior said. “She said it wasn’t for showing up, but, I mean, it kind of was.”

Regardless of these incentives, a majority of the senior class still chose not to make an appearance.

“I have a major case of senioritis. Plus, the beach is better than school. That’s why I decided to ditch,” senior Dan Buettner said.

Countless seniors defended their decision to participate with the terms “senioritis,” second semester, and “YOLO” thrown around quite liberally. It seems the popularity of senior ditch day is capable of enduring the negative backlash from both teachers and administrators.

“I have a strong suspicion that in the future our senior teachers will probably put their heads together and brainstorm ways to reduce the number of students that are cutting on a day like that,” Associate Principal Jan Carlson said.