Let’s look at the real conflict at NT. Surprisingly, perhaps, I’m not talking our
rivalry with Northern. Or our beef with the mall cops at the food court (who,
in other news, on page 32, refused to be interviewed by Graffiti). It’s a kind
of conflict within our school, between many students and several teachers. It’s
not the usual bickering – about cell phones, late slips, exams or marks – but
you could say it’s all-inclusive. It’s about the power of a conventional wisdom:
that NT is the hardest school around.
If there are two things that most of us students really learn to believe, it’s that whatever else we’re learning is overly difficult and that students at other schools have it much easier. The belief goes like this: we have the most work, the most competition, and the
most demanding schedules, and this leaves students stressed. And there is no
doubt about it, some say, because this claim is supported with reason. Many
students point to EQAO scores, Fraser Institute rankings and student-census
data to prove it.
Teachers don’t buy it. By and large, they believe that such a divide – between NT and other schools – is as nonexistent as winter exams at Lawrence (or practically any other non-semestered school). Every teacher disagrees with students on slightly different grounds, however. Some of them argue that the students’ belief is a product of inflated egos. One teacher attributed it to asbestos from the old building taking its toll on the
head’s of students, but I suppose that excuse no longer makes sense – as if it
ever did. A few teachers even lecture on how much harder students have it in
Korea and Singapore where, they say, rigorous curriculum seriously damages the
lives of students. Others suggest that NT students are just really
Intrigued, this issue of Graffiti set out to answer the question, with as little bias as possible: Is NT harder than other schools or are we just imagining it? In doing so, 5 writers went into 5 other schools in order to compare them to NT on a variety of different measures – standards of marking, workload, extracurricular involvement and more. Chloe Li risked her life reporting from Northern, while Sabina Wex chose to play it
safe at CHAT, a private Jewish school. Anna Crombie tells us about Leaside High
School, and her experience transferring from there this year. Emily Dyer braved
the Lawrence Park Goons, the visor-wearing, BMW-driving, self-named band of
students there (says Urban Dictionary), while Sarah Ratzlaff checked out St.
Clements, where the “Clementines” (..their name, not mine) prefer to rock red
blazers and frumpy blue dresses.
Although these articles provide good perspective, this special does not pretend to be the final word on the matter. Instead, we hope that they inspire you – students and teachers – to look around, like these writers have, and form your own opinions. Maybe Northern really does smell as bad as I’m told – someone spunky check it out and let me
know. If this has proven anything, it is that there is only one final answer:
every school is different.