Senior Superlatives Re-Visited

NOTE: Mrs. Cade, social studies teacher at LRHS, wrote a guest editorial. Below is the Editorial Board’s stance on Superlatives:

Leesville Road High School has been publishing senior superlatives since 1994, and, in general, they are a tradition that has existed since our parents were in high school. Each winter, we re-evaluate the superlatives from last year, add or delete a few that we think aren’t relevant anymore, and then distribute ballots to each senior’s second period class so that our students can vote.

While the superlatives may change over time, superlatives have always existed and students have always enjoyed discussing, evaluating and voting.

However, it was brought to our attention earlier last week that while many students and faculty seem unbothered by the list of this year’s superlatives, there are some who disagree with certain superlatives —  specifically relative to a person’s physical features and what this may promote. Some of those included in this year’s list of superlatives include best looking, best eyes, best legs, and best smile.

In theory, it’s true that you can’t necessarily control how people will react to the superlative — whether some seniors will use it as a way to embarrass their peers. However, a superlative is an adjective that by definition means “of the highest quality or degree.” In today’s world of increased political correctness, we understand the desire to not hurt anyone’s feelings or promote negative competition or harassment. Ethics are very important to us; except, that’s not what superlatives are all about.

Superlatives are intended to be fun, plain and simple. Every senior class in LRHS superlative history has had the best looking or most attractive category. It’s a compliment to the one who wins. Beyond that, it is recognition that you have worked hard (most likely to succeed/most athletic/best dancer) or funny (funniest). Sometimes the recognition is negative, sarcastic, or humorous (most likely to be on a reality show/biggest spender/biggest gossip). And, sometimes the recognition you have physical attributes that are judged as quality (best hair/best legs).

But, all the newspaper can do is provide innocuous opportunities for the 530 seniors to vote.

There are three questions that need to be asked in light of these recent expressed opinions. First, why should we change a senior tradition that has existed nationwide for decades if a very small percent of the student body disagrees? Second, if we were to change or eliminate the appearance based superlatives as mentioned above, wouldn’t we have to eliminate superlatives all together since the other superlatives employ the same notion of “better quality or attributes” over your peers? And finally, since when did rewarding someone for their qualities in a certain field, whatever that field may be, become a problem? The line between political correctness and the lack thereof is a fine line, but we believe political correctness has been overstepped in this case.

As senior editors for the newspaper, we are proud to work for Leesville; superlatives are something we look forward to. The students do as well. If students were coming forward to teachers or administration stating that harassment and degradation were occurring as a result of the superlative practice, we would obviously be concerned and reconsider the ethics of superlatives.

With that said, we will be counting the superlatives in a matter of days. If you feel strongly against this issue, it is your right not to partake in the superlative process. However, we hope that you will engage in this fun tradition that is not just unique at Leesville, but across the country.

1 Comment on "Senior Superlatives Re-Visited"

  1. We have a saying here at Leesville (actually several of them) used by the students, faculty and administration alike; it is some version of “Keep it classy,Leesville”, or, “The Leesville Way”. I think we should revisit the superlatives and hold them up to that simple standard, asking ourselves, “It is classy? Does it uphold and represent the best in all of us and of this class? Is a positive reflection on our school and why we are The Pride?” If the answer is uncertain, if it draws attention to things we should be embarrassed about, if it would embarrass the parents of the student, or if it is reductivist rather than aspirational, then we should let it go. History is great, but so is evolution.

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