With the distribution of course cards and meetings about class selections, some rising seniors are rethinking their graduation plans. While most students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School choose to “walk across the stage in June,” some have diverged from the norm, deciding instead to graduate early, in December.
In previous years, students have also decided to graduate early. Multiple factors can contribute to one’s decision about graduating early, including future career choices, gap semesters and personal concerns. However, a new reason is leading more students to graduate early: MSD itself.
While the same average of 15 students that graduate early every year are leaving in 2019, some of this year’s group have made this decision based upon the school environment itself. The recent changes in leadership, security and procedures have created a feeling of exhaustion and concern for certain members of the student population.
“I’m graduating early because I just don’t want to be at this school anymore,” junior Alyssa Goldfarb said. “I just feel like I don’t need to be here for a full year, if I can get my credits done sooner.”
For those who plan on taking a semester or two off, some students have been trying to decide what to do with their future spare time. Volunteering, interning or even getting a head start in the workforce have been options that resonate with some MSD students.
“After I graduate I’m most likely doing a community service-based program that travels out of the country,” junior Zoey Fox-Snider said. “For me, benefits are getting to choose what I actually want to do, experiencing new things that I normally wouldn’t and taking a break before college.”
Upon graduation, many members of the faculty try to convince students that it is important to do something with the time that would have been occupied by attending classes and studying. Although most students are over the constraints to school, graduating early should be more than just an opportunity to leave school.
“My opinion is that you only graduate from high school one time, and I think that kids tend to rush through growing up,” senior guidance counselor Gerald Turmaine said. “They need to do something. Don’t just graduate early to lay on the couch or stay up until 4 a.m. playing Fortnite. If you are doing it you should be doing it for a reason and you should do something with it instead of being over school and not wanting to do anything.”
Weighing both personal and social factors together to make a decision, some students have found that they will mentally and physically benefit from leaving the school earlier than scheduled. This new time allows them a chance to recuperate from their high school years and prepare for an upcoming future.
“I want to gain experience in my career field in the semester that I won’t be in school,” Goldfarb said. “I either plan to land an internship with a fashion marketing company or just get a job within my field. I think that gaining experience is more important than that last semester in school, since I know what I do in that semester away would benefit me more in the long run than what I would do here.”
Whether a student decides to graduate early or on schedule is a decision that holds influence on their future. Either way, citing MSD itself as the reason for leaving has been on the rise for 2019.
This story was originally published in the April 2019 Eagle Eye print edition.