The Effectiveness of Tradition on an Unreceptive Audience

What is tradition? Is it peer pressure from those not with us? Is it derived from the need to honor those who came before? Or is it just the original precedent of the world? Many events in the news and around the school raise the question on whether tradition is beneficial, or if it could be avoided due to a lack of enthusiasm. 

With the seniors’ last day occurring on the 12th, our annual traditions around graduation are being planned. Senior roses in theater, the ‘tap in if you’ll miss this senior’ Instagram stories, and soon, the Seniors’ Last Assembly and graduation will have come and gone. These traditions have relatively low negative connotations, besides the bittersweet feeling of senior friends departures for college. Often the extent of the negativity comes from the embarrassment of remembering a funny story, or the occasional dozing freshman at the Seniors’ Last Assembly. However, the least effective tradition in this end-of-year assembly being the empty promises made for the next school year as an afterthought in the goodbye speeches given by the other executive councils. Often these speeches boil down to “just be good” or “respect the school… please.” When the troublemakers don’t listen, the importance of the challenge is diminished, for example, the sophomore class challenged the freshmen to respect the school last year, but problems with the school persist, and while this all may not be the current sophomore class’ fault, the incoming freshman and the juniors were all challenged with a similar, if reworded, challenge.  

While our little tradition seems small, it shows how one group of people can rally behind a likable and relatable tradition. The opposite can be said about the coronation. Charles has never been a popular man, especially after his 1981 divorce of Princess Diana, and his 2005 wedding with Camilla. His coronation comes with the same shadow, as well as the legacy of his mother’s long rule and renowned impact. His coronation also comes at a time of British instability, with five million Brits considered in “fuel poverty”, with an estimated 80% jump in bills since October of last year, with a steep rise in post-Brexit inflation the king’s coronation put a strain on taxpayers’ bills. With a 57% disapproval rate for the event, and historical uncertainties surrounding Edward V and Edward VII’s lack of a coronation during times of economic hardship, the British people looked unfavorably on the lavish event’s price tag. 

The king’s coronation is an example of the uncertainty of tradition. While some people would argue that it was of historical and ceremonial significance, others would argue that it was an unnecessary show which glorified the imperialistic elements of the former British Empire.  While no one would say the same about our graduation ceremony, many might argue that certain elements, for example, the executive council’s speeches or the robe colors being determined by gender (or at least the proposal of that idea) could be removed or altered, without the event changing much. As we enter a world we can truly call “post-Covid”, the impact of traditions have changed, what customs used to be considered essential for an event have changed, and the meaning behind those events have shifted, maybe for the better. Pre-Covid, our graduation traditions had been growing steadily more competitive, where classes would attempt to one-up each other, or include inside jokes in their speeches, which a majority of the audience would not get. Despite its apparent shallowness, the Seniors’ Last Assembly speeches are hopefully transitioning between meaningless and meaningful, without returning to a competitive nature. These changes are for the better, and I wonder if the same sentiment will occur during the next coronation. While complaints about these traditions mostly come from underclassmen wondering about the necessity of the Seniors’ Last Assembly, or jealousy toward the seniors’ shortened school year. I shall leave you with this question: would changing tradition dishonor those who came before, or is it better to change based on the feedback of the public?


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