Senior Shirts Encourage Community

By Anna Kleinhans

Finally, the class of 2018 is at the top of the food chain, and they want everyone to know it. After three years of waiting, the seniors express their dominance with many traditions, one of which involves red and gold baseball tees adorned with iron-on letters and glitter: senior shirts.

The amazing thing about the tradition of senior shirts is the community it creates within Berkeley High School (BHS), specifically among the seniors. Senior Catherine Sutton said, “I think it does [create community], especially among the [senior] women at Berkeley High because the guys don’t really wear them … I think it’s just this uniting factor that kind of brings us together.”

Walking around school and seeing others wearing their senior shirts gives a sense of being a part of something bigger. Senior Veronica Page-Harley emphasized that. “[The tradition] is very uniting. I was in the bathroom last Friday and saw some random girl that I had never seen in my life before … She was wearing her red, bedazzled senior shirt, and automatically I felt like we had so much in common. We smiled at each other and acknowledged that we were seniors together,” Page-Harley said.

The existing BHS ritual approaches the concept of a “class shirt” a little differently than other schools, where the process of making senior shirts is about individual expression just as much as creating a sense of community. Each shirt is designed by the person who wears it, from the font used to spell out ‘senior’ on the front to the nickname on the back. This distinction provides a variety of individualized shirts that represent every corner of the BHS community.

For some, thinking about the name on the back of their shirt has been a long and grueling process. Senior Mackenzie Nye endured stress and difficulty while selecting the nickname which would represent her throughout the year, with a variety of names to choose from, including Mack Daddy, Mack Attack, Mack and Cheese, and Magic Mack. In the end, she settled on Big Mack because, according to Nye, it was “the most understandable and funny.” For others such as Daniela Vieira, the task of choosing a nickname was short and simple: “Mine is my Instagram … it means kiss in Portuguese and everyone thinks it’s my last name, so it’s kind of funny.”

In addition to creating community within the graduating class, the senior shirts are something that can be looked forward to from the start of one’s freshman year. Seeing all of the personal designs on the backs of mysterious seniors makes people excited to decorate their own shirts one day.

Senior shirts are a part of the BHS community that have been bringing people together for many years. The senior class is able to unite and show off their dominance during their last year at our school in a very Berkeley way; meshing individuality with a simple high school tradition that gives the underclassmen something to look forward to, and the seniors something to embrace.