The Student News Site of Polytechnic School

The Paw Print

The Paw Print

The Paw Print

The terms and conditions of Poly pride


For an assignment in the PolyEnriched American Studies class, juniors were required to write and deliver a speech on a topic they are passionate about. The article below is a condensed version of junior Talya Axel’s speech, which she delivered to the freshmen and sophomore classes.

Poly knows how to sell itself, but despite its effective marketing, Poly’s goal is not student happiness. Poly’s goal is not student self-discovery. Poly’s goal is student success. It’s easy to get swayed by that possibility, by the promise Poly offers like a golden escalator to brighter futures. I bought my own escalator, though I thought it would be more Poly orange.

I came to Poly in my freshman year for the chance at something. I did not know what to expect when I came to Poly, starting on Zoom with my camera off and with tepid engagement. My outsider’s view gave me a unique perspective on this school and its illustrious opportunities and its avowed support system and its muddled spirit and its bureaucratic underbelly.

If this speech speaks to anyone, I hope it will be to the future blue robes hoping for a community at Poly that can better represent them.

It is difficult to support a community that makes little effort to support you, that listens with its ears shut. It is hard to watch the escalator twist and coil until you are not even moving up. We resent Poly because of its community, a community that barely exists, an existence defined by restrictive characteristics, which limit engagement and reinforce our individualism.

The Poly community relies on external appeasement, for it caters to its board and the parents and the colleges. So, we lose sight of its prolific qualities, for it is not catering to us anymore.

Consequently, Poly makes it difficult to sport its crest. In fact, most of the community I felt as an underclassman at Poly resulted from a rejection of all the golden escalator represented. Do you wonder why we have a hard time with the phrase “Panther Pride?” It is because we can feel our school’s disappointment, those of us who aren’t smart enough, athletic enough, competitive enough or brave enough.

We can feel our school’s apathy, those of us who are not benefiting from it in the ways it asks. We can feel its sympathy, those of us who get one meeting a year to talk about our culture, those of us who get pride flags at clubs’ fair because, for the rest of the year, we have to keep our meetings secret to protect our fellow LGBTQ students, those of us who see mental health signs in the bathroom, white paper and a message of love taped lethargically to the stall door.

They make school spirit all about sports, and so we feel uninvolved. They make it about those elected, and so we feel uninvolved. They make it about inter-grade competition, and so we feel uninvolved.

Do you want to waste away your high school years? Do you want to rot in spiteful resignation? Do you want to let all this time go by until you find yourself, a senior and suddenly nostalgic for your Poly experience?

As a junior, I have grown to appreciate orange, because, despite its flaws and shortcomings, it gleams with formative moments in my adolescence.

As a junior, I have finally started showing up to Poly events, talking to my classmates and representing my school. As a junior, I am no longer just complaining. As a junior, I am trying now to make Poly better for everyone. But as a junior, it feels too late.
It would be remiss for me not to tell you all of my failure, and it would be unfair for me to stand here and pretend like I did it right. I’m here because I hope that you will. Years ago, PASC ran Poly. Now, it is SALC. Who knows what it will be soon, but that is not even the point.

The point is that engaging in Poly and working with it to create the school for you benefits everyone, so I encourage you to try. I know my recent immersive efforts have been cherished by people I have never talked to, and I know it is worth it when they remember me for my contribution to our community.

When I see people and smile and ask them if they got a chance to do my crossword instead of just awkwardly half-waving, I feel a new sense of community on my terms. School spirit does not have to be a certain way whether it be sports jerseys, straight As, Teslas or $300 letterman jackets. We are too clouded to work past the deceit and orange packaging for the even better. We are too robbed sometimes to buy into hope.

I think I was the most optimistic when I decided to go here, sitting in my room with a pro-con list out, Poly in orange highlight calling to me. Only now, with action, do I feel that decision paying off like a serendipitous investment I forgot to cash in.
I want you all to reflect on your four years at Poly, as seniors and feel the fruits of your labors. I want you to engage in your community now, so you will be here long enough to feel the legacy of your actions, so you will stand in blue robes as the sun shines over your whole class and feel the weight of your high school experience.

I do not think that Poly presents a narrative we must follow, for we choose to adopt or reject it or remold it. There are opportunities at Poly for the artists, the athletes, the activists, the singers, the dancers, the mathletes, the debaters, the game makers, the pranksters, the inquisitive, the worried, the scared, the hopeful.

The only type of person you should not be is disengaged. That cannot be blamed on Poly, on the administration, because the retribution will only come for you, when you are standing at the end and looking back, when you are watching the light dim from below the brim of your graduation cap.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Paw Print

Your donation will support the student journalists of Polytechnic School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Talya Axel, Student Contributor
Donate to The Paw Print

Comments (0)

All The Paw Print Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *