AB: “Can you tell me about any traditions from your high school that stick out or seem special?”
DB: “Um, the only thing I can think of is senior ditch day. I don’t know if you wanna hear about that though, it’s kinda dumb.
AB: “Ditch day sounds great! Tell me about it.”
DB: “I mean. It’s what it sounds like. All the seniors ditch school, usually in one of the last weeks in second semester. It used to be that student council would decide when during secret meetings, but now we just have votes in secret Facebook groups. That’s what my year did anyway. Anyway. The teachers and school know about it of course, and it’s really funny seeing who’s cool with it and who’s not. Sometimes, teachers will be like, ‘Oh, I’m showing a movie that day, so I may forget to skip attendance, so hypothetically, I wouldn’t notice if say, half the class was gone, for some reason. Wink wink nudge nudge.’ But other teachers aren’t cool with it at all. They’ll like rant for several hours about how were seniors and should be responsible enough to go to school. Anyway, on ditch day, we all go to Tuna beach. You can only get there by taking this, like, super steep hike down, and we usually spend the night there, which means you’re hiking down on loose dirt on a steep hill with who knows how many pounds of food and stuff strapped to your back. That part isn’t fun, but the beach is super secluded and there’s places to make bonfires, which is why we go there. Anyway, you know what it’s like, lots of drinking, lots of drugs, a few hook-ups that usually cause drama. Oh I just remembered, there was this one girl my year who tried acid I think, but she was allergic to it and started having a reaction so the paramedics had to come get her, but they can’t carry her up the hike in a gurney so they have to take this, like, really long and windy private road down to the beach, and we were super scared because it took them a really long-ass time. Anyway. She survived. But it was super scary. Oh, I can’t believe I forgot… there was also another kid who couldn’t spend the night on the beach, so he drank as much as he could before hand and got alcohol poisoning and was really sick. That was happening at the same time as the acid-allergy girl, so. It was a really chaotic night. I guess they’re always like that.”
AB: “Why is senior ditch day special to you?”
DB: “I mean, it’s the only time I ever did something rebellious in high school. Like actually rebellious, not just staying in my room all day watching TV rebellious. I was also really proud of me and my friends for… for, ya know, not being a disaster. I mean, I threw up, but it was also my first night drinking, and it felt good to feel like I was becoming a college student.”
Senior ditch day seems to be an important rite of passage for seniors at this high school, who may not have experimented with many substances before. While ideally this can be a safe place to experiment with alcohol and other substances likely to be encountered in college, it can also be quite dangerous because few people present have experience with substance-use and over-use.