By Diana Chen, Opinions Staff Writer
[Note from the Editors: This article does not reflect administration’s viewpoints. Rather, it is an expression of student speculation, which may not be substantiated.]
A lot of rumors have been swimming around recently about a possible cancellation of some of IMSA’s most popular programs available to its students: Clash of the Halls (also known as CoTH), Intersession, and cultural programs like Diwali, Lunar New Year, etc. I may only be a sophomore at the moment, but it does not take a team of engineers or an Einstein clone to realize just how much these programs mean to us as students. Though it is sadly now practically confirmed that Intersession will be called off for the two years following Intersession 2013, no one has told us definitively of the fate of CoTH or other cultural programs. Taking away Intersession makes some sense because we need to reduce the school year for renovations, but removing CoTH and Diwali and other shows hardly seems reasonable. However, administration justifies this act by citing how much time these arduous tasks take away from studying or doing more academically-related tasks. This all leads to the question then: why are we here at IMSA? So many of asked us this question and many will respond with the “opportunities for math and science” or “the great classes,” but are we here only for that reason? Although many of us may have come here with these thoughts in mind, I doubt that many of us imagined how easy it would be to forge closer bonds with our peers and faculty through extra-curricular activities. CoTH and the cultural programs are a part of IMSA, and they cannot be taken away from us.
IMSA undoubtedly has one of the toughest academic itineraries out there. Additionally, it is a residential school that separates many of us physically and emotionally from old, familiar friends and family. Despite this, IMSA students grow very close for this reason: we are all working towards a common goal of greater knowledge that leads to a better future. Without time set aside for different people from different backgrounds to meet, though, many students would never get to meet or hang out with peers that could potentially become their best friends. For a lot of people, this may be the very first time leaving home, independent of the life they led before and the people they’d known. We need a solid support system to go through a very difficult transition into a new life, and CoTH and our cultural shows give us specific times to meet and bond as an entire student body. Without proper support or friends by our side, many students will fall no matter how determined they are to succeed academically, because in order to “advance the human condition,” we must know how to lead and interact with humans in the first place.
IMSA is also known for its understanding faculty members who often factor into the extracurricular activities involved in their students’ lives. I’ve found that more often than not, teachers are well aware of cultural shows and CoTH ahead of time and support our non-academic endeavors. Our educators realize that we are still teenagers who need some time off to relax and have fun. We also did not come to IMSA only for its academic standing; we recognize that IMSA holds a lot more than that. In the words of Mrs. Micklo, an English department teacher, “…if you’re only here to sleep and eat, then what’s the point?” What is the point of living through each day looking forward to only getting a good grade or acing the next paper? Life is a lot more than that. We may not have known it at first, but coming to IMSA has made us realize who we are as people, and we find who we are through activities like CoTH and cultural programs. “It’s an expression of who [we] are,” says Dr. Anjur, a Science department instructor. I challenge administration then, that if our instructors, those who give our education the highest importance, realize the value of these activities, then there is no reason to take them away from us. IMSA is not an institution that just nurtures our scientific minds, but also our ethical minds that matter in life outside the classroom. We may have come to IMSA seeking a school but we found a home, and without CoTH or our cultural shows or any other non-academic activity it cannot be the same. I urge the administration to think hard now and in the future if this becomes an issue again, because in the words of Dr. Kadel, it’s “part of what makes IMSA unique.”
Update: Although Intersession will indeed be cancelled next year, Clash of the Halls and cultural shows will not; the former is run entirely by Student Council, while the latter is controlled by individual clubs. For more information, see Clearing Up Rumors: Clash of the Halls and Cultural Shows.