Senior Ditch Day Brings Financial Repercussion

One hundred forty-four seniors did not attend school on Monday as part of a planned “senior ditch day,” according to Assistant Principal Jeanne Jones. This is many more than the daily average of 50 full-day absences, as estimated by attendance secretary April Llamas. While Jones says she has noticed a trend of seniors not attending school on the day after Halloween, this particular ditch day had financial implications: SDA lost over $6,000 from the absence of students, due to a new system of funding.

Overall, however, participation in this ditch day was low, according to students interviewed. “I only ditched first period, just because I wanted to sleep… But I wanted to go to my AP Government class because it was necessary for me to be there,” said one female senior who wanted to remain anonymous.

This low participation was partially due to poor planning, the student continued. “You can’t really do ditch day during first semester, because a lot of people have important classes, and this semester still counts towards college… It was just really poorly planned over Facebook so it just didn’t go well. I don’t know if we’re going to try again,” she said.

Another senior, who did participate in the ditch day, agreed. “People just went off on their own, doing their own kind of things, which is fine, but more of an organized thing would be better for next time,” he said.

Some students didn’t participate at all. “I don’t want to miss my classes,” said another anonymous male senior. “Teachers usually find out when senior ditch day is, so they assign a quiz or other classwork that can’t be made up, so I don’t want to participate in that because I don’t want my grade to drop… But they actually didn’t try [to interfere] this year because no one actually participated.”

“The idea of the ditch day is that seniors come together as a collective whole to come together and to ditch school, and kind of bond over that, because it’s our last year and stuff,” said another female senior who did not participate, “but it has kind of turned into this situation of peer pressure, and usually it’s a lot of people putting other people down for not ditching… I don’t like what it became.”

In any case, the 144 seniors who didn’t attend school on Monday did have an affect on the school. San Dieguito Academy has a new system of funding this year, known as Average Daily Attendance (ADA). This means that the school receives funding from each student who shows up to school — about $45 per student, according to Jones, so the cost of these students ditching school was about $6,570.

“We don’t really see how it affects the school… We don’t know what happens with that money so a lot of people don’t care… I honestly don’t know how to feel about it,” said the second anonymous senior girl.

The first female student, however, was not concerned. “Seniors don’t care [about funds lost from ditch day]… They already ruined our school… They cut senior court. They ruined half of the tiles. It’s not SDA anymore, so we just don’t care.”

In contrast, another anonymous participant said the school should actually support the ditch day: “I think the school should just embrace the tradition and make it an official day because it happens every year anyway,” he said.

Jones, on the other hand, said that students should be concerned when the school loses money because of their absence. “It’s not good for kids… The money goes to instruction which benefits all students. That’s something important we’ll be missing,” said Jones. “I know it sounds fun, but if you look at the long-term repercussions, I really would have appreciated it if the students came to school.”