Selection process unfair

Some of the group of students represented to escort Michelle Obama to her seat at the event.

For a surprise, where’s the compromise?

There are a lot of things that can come to one’s mind when they think of AHS: one of the most diverse student populations in not only the area, but the country, Luke Skywalker’s previous high school, a unique bomb shelter from the existence of its very own mascot, the “atom”. These are certainly great accomplishments for a school driven by success and opportunity and with the visit of First Lady Michelle Obama and South Korean First Lady Kim Yoon-ok on Thursday, October 13, the list of AHS’s accomplishments has only become longer.

It’s needless to say that the exciting news has been the talk of the town around the halls of AHS and in the homes of its students and teachers, but I would like to bring into question the letdown of the whole occasion. How is it fair that about a 2,500 student population (not even to mention its teachers) got revved up by a visit that less than 400 students were able to attend? The answer is simple: it isn’t fair and in fact, it might have been just be a little cruel too.

It comes down to the fact that as an AHS student myself, there isn’t anything I’d have liked to have done than see the First Lady. Like many AHS students and their families, we all work hard in both school and at home, so when it comes down to a person with the stature that Michelle Obama has coming to our school, we all should have been able to take part in seeing her in person as a community of atoms and Americans, not just on a television screen depicting an event taking place just down the hallway. After all, how can something be called a “school event” when not even a majority of the AHS body was able to participate in it?

When President Obama came to Wakefield High School back in 2009, the whole school was able to see him once administration had crammed everyone into their gym, so it may anger students to question why there couldn’t be a compromise for our student body as well? We all know we have many students who go to our school, but moving the event if the weather permitted outside onto the football field would have been an alternative so everyone would have been able to see the First Lady speak, even though it did call into question the security risk that everyone fears. But, really: with all of the secret service, dogs, and other security Mrs. Obama had brought with her that day, couldn’t the area have been secure enough to have had the event on the football field, even despite the inclement weather?

Sadly, though, this was just not the case on Oct. 13 and it honestly kind of makes one wish that AHS had a field house like Robinson Secondary School so that there would have been enough space for the entire student body to see Mrs. Obama speak, even though there was extra space in the bleachers that could have been filled by deserving students when the actual event came into place. So I say that somehow AHS and administration should have made it a case anyway, even though it’s doubtful that it was bound to be a priority when administration was able to attend the event, no questions asked. Plus, when they’d already planned on cramming 150-200 diplomats, secret service, and only a few students and teachers into the gym for the event, how was there even a fair chance for the rest of the student body to secure a seat?

Here’s also where we get to the other problem of the whole “who got to go” business: the “lottery” for which student names was put in and drawn out of might have been just a little bias as well in retrospect, since the rumor is that if you are a coveted “Atom in Good Standing”, the head of a club or activity at school, or are a senior IB Diploma candidate, you were more likely to be drawn to go to see the First Lady speak in person. But how is this fair either? There are many students who work hard and may be doing poorly in one class the first half of the first quarter simply because they’re working at night to help put food onto the table for their family or simply got a bad grade on one test or quiz that may have put their grade down a little the first part of the first quarter. Plus, how is it fair that only the head (or a few) of a club or activity gets to see the First Lady when the club or activity is a whole group of people that make up its entire being? The IB Diploma candidates are not the only important members of a club or activity at this school, so it is not fair that they were the only ones with a secure shot at securing a place at the event.

Another thing is the demographics represented at the event. In an event where the First African-American Lady of the United States and the First Lady of South Korea are attending, why wasn’t the majority of the escorts multicultural? Not to mention that Michelle Obama stressed people to take their education seriously and challenge themselves, yet none of the escorts were IB diploma candidates. There was even a story that one of the escorts was mistaken to be South Korean by the First Lady herself, meaning that Michelle Obama even expected there to be a South Korean escort.

So if this is what administration calls a “fair chance” at being selected to attend the event, I have to respectfully disagree. It was almost anguishing as a student part of many activities and an “Atom in Good Standing” myself having to sit in an almost empty classroom watching the First Lady of our country at our school on a television screen when the event was happening literally right down the hallway. I also have to argue that it was incredibly unfair that many students that were not chosen to go through this “lottery” had to still participate in their regular academic curriculum while most of the school got to be enjoying the event down in the main gymnasium. The students not chosen to go should have at least have had a free “study hall” sort of day during both fifth and seventh period, instead of having to unfairly focus on academics that should have probably been put on hold along with the rest of the students getting to miss a regular school day.

So to administration and the rest of the head of AHS, the next time someone like the First Lady or of high stature comes to AHS, make sure that everyone is able to participate in seeing them, instead of less than the majority of the school who are just as deserving to attend this “school event.”

After all, as sophomore Adriana Medina said, “Mrs. Obama came to speak to all of us students, not just some of us.”