Tag Archives: High school ritual

Day of the Ditch

The following informant is a 20 year old college student from Upland. Here she is explaining the tradition of Senior Ditch Day at her highschool. This is a transcription of our conversation, she is identified as GA and I am identified as K:

GA: So, every year the seniors of Upland High School would have a Senior Ditch Day, and all of the seniors, well … maybe not all of them cause maybe some would not go … but a lot of them would go to the beach.

K: Were you guys aloud to miss school?

GA: No, like the teachers were pretty adamant, they did not want anyone to go!

K: So how did it work? Did you first meet at the school?

GA: Yeah, we first meet at the school and then carpool to the beach, we would spend the day at the beach and then comeback. After the day no one really talks about it because we did not want to get in trouble. Like no one posted anything about it cause the teachers might find it

K: How did you hear about the tradition?

GA: Umm.. like everyone was just talking about it and being like secretive about it because they did not want the teachers to hear about it. I found out probably when I was a junior, that other people were doing it so I kind of got excited about it, but then forgot about it, and then when I was a senior it came up and I was like oh man! This is a tradition.

K: How did it feel to participate in this tradition of Senior Ditch Day?

GA: It was a lot of fun… to get away… you felt pretty reckless. But like a lot of the teachers they did not want you to leave! And I remember that day there was like a couple of quizzes that a lot of people missed

Context: She told me this while we were sitting at her dining room table one evening.


I think the Senior Ditch Day tradition for Upland High is great. These kids are seniors, about to embark on a new journey and leave high school, something needs to mark this occasion. This makes me think of the Rites of Passage, and how when we change identities we often ritualize it. That is kind of what this is, also like GA said it makes you feel a little reckless, it aloud her and her class to blow off some steam.

Senior Pilgrimage

“Senior Pilgrimage is a tradition at my high school. We would walk from our high school for 14 miles down to Mission San Juan Capistrano and even though the walk was long, it was fun to miss a day of class and have all my friends there with me. It was a highly encouraged event to go to, but students had to meet certain prerequisite requirements like turning in all books to the library, paying library fines, finishing detentions, and stuff to go. And if you didn’t want to go, you would have to have a form signed. They would give us out shirts that said “Senior Pilgrimage” and the year then have us start the walk to the mission at 8:00am on the last day of classes for the school.

The informant is a friend of mine from elementary school, though in high school we went to different schools. I ended up going to Tesoro High School while she went to Santa Margarita. She told me that the school liked having everyone participate in traditions such as the one above because it helped bring the students together and gave them a stronger sense of community. She told me more about this tradition when she was at my house last week and we were recalling things we had to do in high school. She enjoyed participating in the event besides having her feet hurt, and felt that she grew with many of the people she talked to along the journey to the mission. She feels it served as a capstone marking the end of her high school journey.

My friend recalls the school engaging in this tradition since its opening in 1987. Since then, every faculty member has ensured that the walk has happened in the same fashion each year, with everyone receiving the shirts marking the year of the pilgrimage. I wish that I too had something like this at my high school. Though strenuous, it would have helped round out my high school experience and mark my transition from high school to college.