September 23, 2022 at 4:00:00 PM
Avallina Orfield '25
Last year saw the rocky launch of the return to normal Mercersburg Academy traditions. Semiformal dinners and family-style lunches were unregulated and intermittent due to COVID. I had gotten so used to my friend group that the thought of being forced to sit with random people from around the school exasperated me. Lunch and dinners were time to relax, and I didn’t want to spend that time staring into the vast dining hall, unsure of what to say to these people I had never met. When the traditions started to come back in full force, that’s what I found myself doing: sitting in silence with people who also ate quietly. My time to hang out with my friends was being stripped away, and my protest was closing myself off.
I’ve come to realize that this was a horrible outlook to have, and family-style lunches and dinners are admittedly smart. Family-style meals rid Mercersburg of the ignorant cliques that typical high schools have, and are, in my belief, the driving force of the community on campus. They’re a chance to meet people, a chance to interact with the different faculty who work all sorts of jobs on campus, an opportunity to be with other students from every grade. I’m sure if you get an interesting table, the two-week rotation will upset you more than the fact you’re not eating with your immediate friend group. You’re bound to get a group of people where the table is really awkward, and you have to do those silly introductions: name, PGA, and favorite something. I agree, those are very awkward and I dread the introductory stage of every seating arrangement; but when that’s all under your belt, the fun starts.
Maybe it’s not your biggest wish in the world to dress up every Monday night, and the “Never Wear the Same Dress Twice” Rule is wearing you down and you’re running out of options. Maybe you’ve never learned how to tie a tie and you don’t know who to ask, or the ties choke you and you wouldn’t want to be caught dead wearing one. This just means you haven’t hit the stage of enlightenment where you and your friends throw a pre-dinner party in someone's room and get dressed blasting music or have never had to run to the chapel to be the first group to take nice pictures.
Take advantage of these moments, whether it is to borrow that one tie or dress your friend has, start a conversation, or ask some people about their lives and where they come from. Realize that there is so much more to these conventions than some lofty, restricting tradition.