The Latin Hierarchy Isn’t Defined by Age

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Alice Bolandhemat We constantly receive instructions from our parents, teachers, and coaches: make your bed. Do problems one to twenty for homework tonight. Stretch before tomorrow’s game. We often assume that to have power, you must be older, wiser, and more mature. But at Latin, power dynamics are not typical. An underclassman can be a captain of a sports team, a junior can edit a senior’s essay, and a teacher can learn from a student. Grace Coberly ‘17 tutors in the Writing Center and often edits pieces written by her peers. She finds it easiest to edit the work of people she is close with, like her friends and sister. “I didn’t find it difficult to give [my sister] feedback, and I don’t think she found it difficult to accept my suggestions. Of course, I tend to give her a lot of advice already as her older sister, so it wasn’t a big change for us,” explained Coberly. Coberly would even go as far as to say that she meets with her friends to discuss essays more frequently than all of her teachers combined. “Because we’re accustomed to doing this and we know what the other person is looking for in terms of feedback, we are able to help each other without worrying that we’re being too harsh,” said Coberly. During her sophomore year, Coberly overheard a senior discussing an essay with Mr. Lombardo and was so interested that she wanted to help edit it. The senior sent Coberly multiple drafts of the story. “We formed a friendship based almost completely on that set of stories. I still have her final drafts saved on my laptop!” said Coberly. Assisting the senior and giving her an extra perspective helped forge a relationship between the two of them, something that might not have happened otherwise. In Grace’s case, being put in the difficult situation of editing an upperclassman’s writing was beneficial to both of them. The writing center isn’t the only place where Latin students challenge the social hierarchy. Ysrael Hernandez ‘19 is one of the captains of boys’ varsity basketball as a sophomore. Hernandez came into this season worried if his teammates would respect him or if he was too timid to be a strong leader. It didn’t take long for him to learn the skills he needed to successfully lead the team, and playing on the team prior to this year gave Hernandez credibility with the upperclassmen on the basketball team. “Over the course of the season, I’ve learned that there are many different ways to be a leader. For instance, I’m not the most vocal guy, but after playing a significant amount of minutes on varsity freshman year, I had experience coming into the season, which is something I brought to the team,” said Hernandez. But for Hernandez, it is more of a challenge to instruct his teammates because of the strong bond they have formed from playing basketball together. Sometimes, it’s more uncomfortable than it is difficult. “Since I’m a quiet guy and my teammates are my friends too, I don’t want to boss them around. Nobody wants to boss their friends around,” said Hernandez. Hernandez believes the hardest part of leading upperclassmen, both on and off the court, is to find a happy medium that’s neither too harsh nor too easygoing. “I think the important thing is to recognize when to be professional and when you can be in that friend type of mode,” said Hernandez. ]]>