Redesigning a High School Website: Caution, Objects in Mirror Are More Profound Than They Appear

Pathways

Two of my least favorite words today:

Creative outlet.

I know, doesn’t seem like such a malicious string of letters, does it? But I’m telling you, these words are the devil. Especially when the pitchfork is placed right into its hands. As in, the words are put in the context of, “Maybe we can find you something else that can serve as your, uh… ‘creative outlet.'”

Um, what?

Let me explain.

The other day we had a meeting with the people in charge about our school website project. Meaning our principal and the higher-ups of the school-tech world, the district ITS and other similar people. Our mission was to pitch the idea and find out what kind of equipment and support we could get for the website, and what the best plan of action for launch would be.

Little did we know, the meeting, for the tech people at least, was actually about why we should even launch at all.

I won’t go into the deep, deep, details of it, but let’s just say that I was a little disappointed.

It seemed that they, as adults, did not seem to think that we, as high school students, were serious enough to take this on. As if we could not possibly comprehend what we were getting into. They didn’t give us enough credit. They were always looking for ways to get out of having to deal with it at all– they’d say things like “does it have to be the Skyview website?” and “you do know what you’re asking us to do, right?” and, of course, “couldn’t we find something else to serve as your creative outlet?”

They were missing the point.

What they failed to understand is that we are not doing this sheerly for the fun of it. We are seeking to change an outdated entity and replace it with something more useful, more modern, and ultimately something more competitive. This website is representative of us and our school– a specific science, math, and technology school. And yet, not only is this website barely keeping abreast of all the other high school websites, our leaders are failing to let its driven, technology-savvy students prove their worth and tackle the issue. (For free, I should add– not for a class, not as a job.)

Of course, I know that we as high school students have a reputation for being a little lazy. For not taking things seriously. And yes, many of us are seniors, and there is the question of who would take over after us. But if we really had been lazy and untrustworthy, we wouldn’t have persisted for so long. We wouldn’t have set up meetings with our school’s principal. We wouldn’t have even bothered talking to them at all. And we surely wouldn’t have been able to answer every single question they threw at us with well-informed answers, including the question of who would succeed us. I think they’ve certainly underestimated us.

But there is something more there, more than just the prejudice; it wasn’t just their doubts about our chances of success. It wasn’t about how much equipment would cost or what kind of people power it would take to make this thing a reality.

After reflecting on the situation, I can see that at they very core of it they were averse to one thing, and it wasn’t necessarily the teenage tendency. It wasn’t a budget of any kind. It was, and still is, change.

They were set in their old ways. Completing this project would be a major shake-up, as we could all tell. It would open a major floodgate– we would need new servers, people to maintain this thing using newer software, applying newer concepts. We could no longer be scraping by on our knowledge of the obsolete. They were too afraid to take the chance.

But we aren’t afraid, because we know what kinds of things would happen if we did get this thing up and running– and how we could revolutionize our tiny high school ecosystem.

As people, we can’t be afraid of change. We are sharks that mustn’t cease to swim. Learning new things, expanding the limits of what we already know– isn’t that what we should be aiming for? We can’t claim to be innovators and 21st-century thinkers if we are still trying to rely on outdated systems.

Thankfully our principal really wanted to push for the new site (thank you!), allowing us to continue the project– I don’t see an end to the hurdles anytime soon. In fact, I see the people we’re supposed to be cooperating with placing them right in front of us, right after the other. But if I’ve learned anything, it’s that even though these hurdles will continue to try and trip us, it’s our job to overcome them. And maybe, just maybe, we can change them altogether.

So in the end, yes, I was highly offended by the term creative outlet. Was I a little sensitive? Perhaps. But I do not like the assumption that this is just something we’re messing around with for fun, and that it’s just a hollow-shell project that has no real weight or value. Especially when the term might just be covering up a bigger issue. I don’t like that. Give us a little more credit– we are more profound than you think we are.

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