Are we Really America’s Greatest School?

Do we really deserve the title of America’s Greatest School?

There’s no escaping it— the pro-Irvington patriotism has been violently unleashed throughout every corner of our lives. It seems that anyone and everyone on campus has dedicated all their efforts towards winning Irvington the title that has lately become nearly sacred—America’s Greatest School. I suppose this sudden, aggressive surge of Irvington unity is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, why shouldn’t we vote ourselves as American’s Greatest School? Seeing the written phrase only conjures the mental image of those words etched upon a pretty plaque somewhere. Why, wouldn’t it be amazing to be called America’s Greatest School? You let your mind wander to the nebulous glories that would ensue from such a feat until a little tug of reality (or maybe a look at Irvington’s voter comments on the “America’s Greatest School” website) brings you back down to Earth.

And when you float back down to the real world, you’re forced to face one minor reality most everyone else has overlooked: Are we really America’s Greatest School? You might think I say this out of some deep hatred for Irvington, but quite the contrary; I have quite a bit of respect for IHS. We are, in fact, a school full of diverse people and diverse opportunities, but the people who run the America’s Greatest School contest will see none of it. They have little interest in whether or not Irvington can live up to its potential title. Ironically, they’re willing to hand out $20,000 to the school that best executes one of the most childish aspects of high school— winning a popularity contest. That, and that alone, will determine whether or not Irvington deserves this title; any merit we have as a school is irrelevant. And so the hunt is on: students scavenge for meaningless votes wherever they can find any, and the extent of Irvington’s “greatness” is forever left a mystery.

Am I suggesting that we forsake a $20,000 boon just because no one’s looking at how “great” a school Irvington is in this contest? No, but there is a point to be made in all this. If the America’s Greatest School contest is not paying attention to the true quality of Irvington, those voting for us care even less. Instead of arbitrarily (and blindly) declaring that we are America’s greatest school, it might be worth mentioning that less effort is invested by our student body as a whole into actually making it into just that. No one has ever been quite as vehement about the things that do matter (test scores, fundraising, school spirit, respecting teachers, etc.) Imagine if we invested this kind of effort in protesting budget cuts, or improving our classes, or anything else that would actually take Irvington in the direction of becoming America’s greatest school. Sure, it’s nice to see that we can all unite and click a few buttons on a computer screen when we’ve all been hit over the head with “Vote Irvington!” as many times as Mission has lost a football game, but maybe the real secret to becoming America’s Greatest School is maintaining that unity even when there isn’t the enticing incentive of $20,000 dangling before us.