By Julia Klimek

As May 1st comes rolling around the corner for the Class of 2022, senior jitters are beginning to hit and adulthood is starting to become a reality for students. After all the hard work they put into their college applications, seniors are finally committing to colleges all over the United States and some even in other countries.

Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA) has celebrated these moments through rose ceremonies, concerts, shout-out posts on the Student Government Association’s social media platforms, and more. But what else can be done to help show appreciation to our seniors’ months of stress and hard work? 

College counselor Ms. McClendon stopped by classrooms earlier this month with a big announcement: Frank Sinatra’s first ever Senior Draft Day would be happening on June 13th., where FSSA will celebrate college decisions. Seniors that would like to participate in the event will be asked to purchase a piece of merchandise from the colleges they will be attending in the fall (a sweatshirt, a shirt, etc). They will then choose a song that’s meaningful to them to be played when they go on stage in the Tony Bennett Concert Hall and show off where they’re going to college.

Each senior will have the option to go on stage individually or with a friend in front of the entire school, including the lower classmen. After this portion of the event, the seniors will meet on the rooftop garden to end the day off with a catered barbecue. 

Ms. McClendon shared why she believes Draft Day is an important inclusion into the Sinatra school community.

“There are quite a few purposes of Senior Draft Day. Overall it is to help build a strong college-going culture at Frank Sinatra. Draft Day celebrates the hard work seniors did in high school and their post-secondary decision. Draft Day is also intended to get the underclassmen excited and thinking about college. They are going to be exposed to many colleges that they haven’t heard of. This day is also designed to make seniors feel great about their next steps. While going to college is amazing, it’s also scary,” Ms. McClendon said.

She also said Draft Day will help students get pumped up to go to college and get them excited about embarking on this new chapter. 

“We want students to feel good about going to college no matter which school they choose. Because it’s not about the name of the school, but what you make it, what you’ll learn and the experience you’ll have. So no matter which college a student is attending, the cheers will be just as loud and students should be just as proud,” she said. 

Ms. McClendon shared that this event was inspired by a tradition that occurred at her previous workplace in the Bronx. In her four years of working as a College Director in a Bronx high school, Ms. McClendon found that Draft Day was an exciting event for students. She wanted to incorporate that tradition into the Sinatra community. Mr. Mwaniki, Assistant Principal of Student Experience, Equity, and Inclusion at Frank Sinatra, also worked at the same high school and spoke highly of Draft Day. 

However, students have been mixed feelings about the idea of Senior Draft Day. Some students see it as an exciting way to celebrate all the hard work seniors have done throughout their years of high school, while others are more nervous about attending this event. 

Rodolfo Rodriguez, a senior student at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, is heading off to the University at Buffalo after he graduates. He sees Senior Draft Day as a beneficial event not just for the seniors, but for the underclassmen as well, and is very excited to attend. 

“I’m kind of rocking with Senior Draft Day. I find it amusing. It’s a nice thing for the seniors to get formal recognition besides graduation. It also gives underclassmen the exposure and insight needed to start the college process. When I started my college process I neglected many schools that I did not know about or had values that coincided with mine. If I would have been exposed to these other schools it could have enticed me to apply and maybe change the outlook on the path I’m taking now,” Rodolfo explains.

Students are encouraged to start the college process during their junior year of high school by attending meetings about college and financial aid, going to college fairs, taking the SAT, and doing general research. Although these are really helpful resources for students, seeing older peers showcase the colleges they’re going to creates much needed exposure. It gives underclassmen an idea of what colleges are open for them to apply to and makes them research these schools in order to gain more knowledge about them in relation to their future career goals and ambitions. Without this exposure it may be hard for students to find a place to start with research.

It’s also an opportunity to prove many stereotypes about college wrong. For example, many students look down upon CUNY schools even though many only have about 35 percent-55 percent acceptance rates and have high quality education for an affordable price. Seeing seniors go to schools like Hunter College will encourage underrclassmen to apply and attend CUNY schools.     

Vanessa Zevallos, a senior student at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, is staying close to home and attending Baruch College in NYC this upcoming fall. She explains that although she understands why students and teachers may love the idea of Senior Draft Day, she doesn’t share the same excitement. 

“I think Senior Draft Day is a great way to share what you’re doing once you graduate from high school with your peers, but honestly, I don’t feel comfortable walking up on stage and letting everyone know my plans after high school. I like keeping that information to myself because it’s nobody’s business but mine. I’m sure there are others who think the same,” Vanessa shares. 

Vanessa continues to give another potential reason why some students are more nervous than happy about Senior Draft Day. 

“What if someone’s not happy about where they’re going to college? Walking on stage and showing the college they’re going to is just going to make them feel worse,” she says. However, Vanessa still acknowledges that no matter what an individual’s plans are after high school the Sinatra community is very supportive for their future career goals. 

Ethan Chin, a senior student at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, shares that he has mixed feelings about Senior Draft Day. Similarly to Vanessa, he can see why some people would be excited about this event and why others would oppose it.  

“I do like the idea of going up on stage and showing off your college. It’s fun and some people thrive off of that thing,” he said.

Although this is a positive outlook on the event, Ethan also shares a possible con of Senior Draft Day. 

“I’m not that introverted, but I have really bad stage fright. Some people have anxiety. Also the issue with picking a song we like when we go up on stage is that some people may pick the same song for their respective college. It’s nice at first, but if you hear Alicia Keys singing the words ‘New York’ in the song ‘Empire State of Mind’ for New York University (NYU) over five times, it can get really annoying,” Ethan says honestly. 

There has also been a misconception in which students think that going up on stage in their college merchandise is mandatory. However, Ms. McClendon clarified that this is not the case. There will be a form sent out to students about their participation in the event. If a student would not like to participate in the event they do not have to fill out the form. Going up on stage is completely optional. This information may increase the amount of students that seem to enjoy the idea of Senior Draft Day. 

Ms. McClendon confirmed this information in an email sent out to the seniors earlier this week. 

“We understand not everyone is comfortable doing this, so it is a personal decision. This is a celebration of your hard work and journey through high school, because of this we strongly encourage you to participate and celebrate yourself! We want ALL seniors to be there that day to help cheer on your peers and enjoy the BBQ celebration in the afternoon,” she wrote in the email. 

Ms. McClendon would love to see as many seniors participate in this event as possible. She encourages everyone to attend and leaves some kind words for those that are nervous about the event. 

“This day is all about love and support. I understand being a little shy, but the audience is going to be very welcoming. I think that once students see how much love their peers are being shown they will be less nervous that day,” she added. “Once we launch the event this year, in the years to come students will be super excited to participate in Draft Day because they will have witnessed the magic and be eager to have their turn once they reach senior year.” 

Although students have a mix of positive and negative responses to the idea of Senior Draft Day, mostly every student seems to agree that the seniors appreciate Frank Sinatra’s efforts to celebrate their accomplishments, and the event can serve a good purpose. The main concern for students seems to be anxieties that come with presenting themselves on stage in front of an audience. 

Ms. McClendon and other staff at Frank Sinatra put a lot of time and effort into brainstorming ways this event could be made more “Frank Sinatra-like”, getting feedback from students, and doing their best to create a fun, beneficial event for the school while also prioritizing student’s comfort levels.