Leaving Without a Trace
October 18th, 2006
Since Stuyvesant High School first opened its doors on September 12, 1904, tens of thousands of students have attended our school. Of that number, there have been many Student Union Presidents, Vice Presidents, Freshman/Sophomore/Junior/Senior Class Presidents, ARISTA Presidents, Big Sib Chairs and editors of The Spectator, Indicator and Caliper, not to mention leaders and members of the numerous other activities our school has to offer.
But can you name a single accomplishment that one of those student leaders has achieved? Why is it that after we will graduate from this prestigious institution, almost none of us will leave behind a lasting memory?
Leaving a legacy at Stuyvesant is something that many students have undoubtedly wished to do, but few have succeeded. One reason is that in the education system, even at Stuyvesant (where students have a great deal of freedom in comparison to other public schools), students don’t have the means, within the confines of the system, to do something that will make a lasting impact. In the most primitive sense, the reason why we go to school is to receive an education—everything that comes with it is merely supplementary. The system, therefore, doesn’t encourage the creation of legacies.
There are also so many overachievers in Stuyvesant that it’s difficult to distinguish yourself from your peers, let alone create a legacy to be recorded in the annals of school history. However, as we learn to adapt to the competitive environment fostered at our school, Frank Sinatra’s famous words, “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere” become a better reference to Stuyvesant than to New York.
It’s a much easier task to establish a legacy in our post-Stuyvesant years as Noble Prize Laureates, famous actors, musicians, politicians and businessmen than to try to create one during the limited four years we spend at high school. Without a doubt, famous Stuyvesant graduates such as Richard Axel, James Cagney, Lucy Liu, Jerrold Nadler and Jeffrey Loria did not accomplish as much during their time at Stuy as they did afterwards. It was only after they became renowned for their accomplishments that their Stuyvesant roots were discovered.
Therefore, instead of looking to leave a part of us behind after we graduate, we should all learn to take advantage of the first-rate education, the lessons of hard work and time management and the prestigious name that is Stuyvesant High School.