PALO ALTO (KPIX) — A group of Palo Alto High School student journalists debated whether to break with a decades-old policy and, perhaps, upset many of their classmates.
“It was a really difficult decision,” said Paly student Waverly Long.
The senior is among five editors of the student-run newspaper, The Campanile, who mulled over whether to include a map that would have included the names of all the seniors at Paly along with the colleges they planned to attend after graduation.
The map, which is typically published in the last issue of the school year, has long served as an acknowledgement of achievement for many seniors. Participation is, however, voluntary.
“I think students that are going the traditional four-year route and are going to so-called elite schools are very proud to put their name on that map and they should be,” said Paly senior and Campanile editor-in-chief Leyton Ho.
But he and the other editors also realized the map could have another impact on those who got rejected from their college of choice or those who decided to enroll in a community college.
“People taking those routes feel embarrassed or ashamed,” said Ho. “And people who don’t reach their goal of going to a prestigious school also feel embarrassed.”
One week before publication, the group of students decided they would scrap the map and instead survey several staff members and students about college, the Paly culture and the future.
Long said they’ve received mixed reaction from their peers and teachers have been mostly supportive.
“To sort of take this away from them, it has been a little hard but I think it’s worth it,” she said. “We realized the biggest statement is just taking it away.”
But the students said their decision wasn’t just made for their graduating class.
They said they did it for current and future Paly students after their own experiences at the high school.
“Because growing up we felt like, around here, there’s a lot of pressure to get to a really prestigious four-year university and that’s the only path to be successful,” Long said. “Success is not the result of a single path.”
“I really felt that abolishing the map was the first step that Paly can take toward creating a more inclusive environment for students of all post graduation plans and not just the traditional four-year path,” said Ho.