Debate Magazine

Freshman Boxing (from the Archives)

By Stevemiranda

At the big public school where I used to work, there was a phenomenon known as “freshman boxing.” I have no idea how it started or why, but at some point freshmen—and of course, dozens of onlookers—began gathering at a local park during lunch break to engage in boxing matches. It all sounded very unsafe to me.

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I remember one incident in which a teacher was dispatched to the local Starbucks to apprehend students who had skipped out on a mandatory pep assembly. These were typically older students who had grown bored of the rah-rah stuff, and simply wanted to escape. They were identified and faced disciplinary action.

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Once, I heard over the loudspeaker: “Attention all staff. No students are permitted to have a hall pass to use the restroom. Thank you.” Apparently, someone had tagged a few of the bathrooms with graffiti. The bathrooms were locked during class time until the offenders  were caught.

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The argument in favor of big schools is clear: it’s simply more economical to have schools with 1600 students over schools with 160.

On the other hand, in a school with population of 1600, students can shrink into anonymity. Simple problems are met with sweeping solutions that lack nuance. Students lack connection with adults and participate in unhealthy activities because everyone is simply too busy, too overwhelmed to do anything about it.

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It’s easy to argue that housing kids in huge buildings is economical. But it’s just as easy to make the case that we’re wasting a great deal of money in a process that isn’t providing great value.

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