By Lily Grenis
Leftover Chipotle salad, posters of rap artists, stray lacrosse sticks, half-empty jugs of iced tea, club fliers, Princeton Review books, signs for sports teams, class photos, Syracuse sweatshirts.
These items may not seem interconnected, but in the final weeks of the 2016-17 school year, they have all found their way into the MPH Student Lounge. Most have been taped, stashed and scattered throughout the Lounge by members of the senior class.
Senior Caroline King explained that while the seniors have undertaken a deliberate initiative to personalize the Lounge in a way that exhibits their close class bond and the memories they have shared together, miscellaneous artifacts of life as an MPH high school student have had just as significant a presence.
“I feel like what comes into the Lounge oftentimes just stays in the Lounge,” King said.
The Lounge has been a unique feature of student life at MPH since the establishment of the McNeil wing in 1994; it was incorporated into the initial building layout but was later reduced in size. The room currently features a large table and a bench on the left and clusters of church pews from the chapel of The Manlius School, the military school preceding MPH, on the right. Though the seniors have continued or revived some longstanding Lounge traditions, such as devoting an entire wall to college rejection letters, other sights around the room are completely unique to their class. Many seniors acknowledged the sentimental value of the additions they have made, such as photos of themselves as kids, a map with tacks showing where they will attend college next fall and a photo of Anna Barnard, a former member of the senior class who passed away earlier this year.
“I see [the wall of decorations] as intimate and a form of bonding, and it has pictures from all our years here at MPH, so it’s also memorabilia, and as seniors reflecting on our MPH experience, I think it makes us more grateful for what we have now,” said Student Body President Annie Weiss.
Despite these benefits, the Lounge has historically had a bad rap with the MPH administration and underclassmen. Members of previous senior classes, and occasionally this one, have been criticized for denying freshmen, sophomores and sometimes even juniors access to the Lounge. Though many current seniors maintain that all are welcome and invited into their space, most MPH students are of the mind that spending time in the Lounge is a rite of passage earned by ascending to the rank of upperclassman.
Aiden Meyer, now a junior, recalled seeing the precedent students follow regarding the Lounge as a logical tradition when he was an underclassman.
“I think there’s slight exceptions to [it] — I don’t think anyone’s ever literally saying, ‘Get out of the Lounge,’ I don’t think it’s ever bullying, but I think it is kind of understood that you’re going to want the Lounge to yourselves as upperclassmen, so underclassmen stay out. It’s an unspoken rule,” he said.
In spite of the traditions governing the Student Lounge, some seniors choose not to focus on the details in favor of purely enjoying their time there. Senior Kyle Davis said he doesn’t attach any specific meaning to the Lounge, calling it simply “a place to go and relax and sometimes be productive.”
Like Davis, King said she views the Lounge as, above all, a place for her and her fellow seniors to hang out, be themselves and enjoy each other’s company, regardless of who wants to join in.
“This is my home base,” King said. “This is just where I always am, this is where all my friends are. I don’t really know what I did before I went in the Lounge.”