by Layla Abdi

Throughout my years at Stuart, a general mantra that I’ve heard is how we as a community are responsible for transforming “Stuart culture.” Never defined, this mysterious phrase was left hanging in the awkward silence of unsaid thoughts. As an underclassman, it wasn’t something I thought about much. As a senior looking back at my high school experiences, the concept of a culture within the walls of Stuart began to make more sense.

The question about the  same words that have been reiterated to me since I was a freshman remains: What exactly is Stuart culture and how do we as a community go  about the daunting challenge of changing it?

A common complaint I have heard from peers is about the lack of spirit at Stuart. Despite this, if you asked a majority of these critics if they were going to a particular school event, the answers would be overwhelmingly negative. To combat this in recent years, particularly for spirit week and homecoming, SGA has emphasized giving points for participation, rewarding the class that has the most people come out and take a part in activities. Though it’s still not perfect, more people participate now compared to two years ago.

This paradox between our actions and expectations of the school has been shown in attendance and work ethic as well. As many fellow seniors will agree, attendance at Stuart was always taken as more of a suggestion than a requirement. Naturally, as intelligent and bright as we all may be, not going to school does have its consequences, and what came from the attendance problems was a bizarre  trend. Outside sources reported on our sub-par SOL scores and graduation rates, and people laughed at the SOL goals posted on the wall last year. The problem becomes real when we complain about the problem, while not trying to solve it in any way either.

Stuart has changed in many other ways as well. For us in journalism, documenting the going-ons of this school, our old issues now read as prologue. Cameras in school-we captured it. The road to turf-mapped out. New bell schedule- we’ve been ringing that one in for years, literally four years. While there is still debate on how beneficial all those changes have been, the majority of the changes have been positive.

What the bigger picture shows however, is how far Stuart has already come, and as the cliche goes, how far it has yet to go. For most freshmen and sophomores reading this- you might not, just as I didn’t at your age, care about what I’m saying, and that’s fine. You have time to change Stuart into exactly the place you want it to be. Class of 2016, we once had a class shirt that read “we do it b16,” and we have a final year to live up to that statement. Because if I’ve learned anything during my time here, it’s that the key to changing Stuart culture lies in action, just waiting for the right people to have the initiative to push it forward.