“Congratulations on being chosen as a junior marshal for the class of 2015!” You may be thinking, what in the world is that? I asked myself the same question all week, after hearing this statement for the first time on Monday. I have yet to find a satisfactory answer.
If you aren’t familiar with the idea of having junior marshals, they’re simply the top 12 GPA-ranked juniors in a high school. We’re required to lead in the seniors at their graduation, and stand on sore feet for what feels like 10,000 hours while ushering all the graduates on stage and simultaneously yearning for our time to come sooner, because what else would you feel except intense envy of those seniors? I mean, sounds like loads of fun, right? What an honor. Congratulations indeed.
Of course, it’s not all bad. Being a girl, I get to have my parents buy me a new lovely white dress to wear (that meets the 500 different guidelines for school dress code, naturally). They take a group picture of us to go on Facebook and in the newspaper and announce our names over the intercom at school that day. Then everyone knows what a nerd you are! “Noelle, you have a 5.055 GPA and you’re ranked 5th out of 486 people? Wow, that’s amazing! Congrats on all the hard work!” No, no that’s not it at all. I get something more along the lines of, “Damn! How is that even possible? You’re like a genius or something! I wish I was that smart…”.
Gee, thanks for the compliment. I mean, I appreciate the support I do receive. But honestly, I wish junior marshals weren’t such a big deal. All it does is create severely intense competition between students whose GPAs are within hundredths of a point of each other. And what about number 13, or 14, or 15? They aren’t good enough? No one congratulates them, or anyone else. I think students need to be rewarded according to their own personal achievements and efforts. I’ve made excellent grades my entire life, but what about that guy over there? He’s been through more than I’ve ever had to deal with, and he’s still making improvements; he’s still trying. That deserves more of a “congrats” than I do.
So what is a junior marshal? Just another student. Sure, I’m proud of my hard work and intrinsic motivation to do well, and proud of my friends for what they’ve accomplished. But we’re not that special. I can’t even open a fruit cup without spilling it on myself. We’re just like any other junior at our school: trying to make it through the daily life of a teenager, all the struggles, laughs, and embarrassing moments that accompany it. Our lives aren’t perfect, and even though the school might believe otherwise, we’re not perfect either. It’s just better that way.