Class of 2011 – A Front for the Mob

Senior year of high school. What many students would describe as the pinnacle of their school years, the coup de gras, the year to rule the school.

As the parent of a senior, I will hereafter refer to it as the Year of Extortion or The Year We Almost Ran Out of Checks.

For years we have written checks for PTA memberships, class supply donations, field trips, yearbooks, and school pictures. I’ve always been happy to donate to the schools, support my child’s education, and have usually been happy to buy the school pictures.

At least during the years when we all remember that it’s picture day and nobody wears their Dr. Pepper or “Save Ferris” t-shirt.

But this senior year ride is a whole different animal. Totally.

It started late summer with Senior Pictures, what my husband fondly referred to as “the day they dressed my son like a waiter”. There are a number of pricey packages with complicated sizing and options, none of which actually correspond to what you really need. You can also bring several different outfits to the portrait session, which compounds the number of pictures you will then have to choose from.

We nipped this one in the bud; picked one best waiter tuxedo shot, ordered some for close relatives, and called it good.

Then there are the school fees.

My son is currently living in the Science Hall at school, since 3 of his 4 classes are there. He’s also knee-deep in an independent research project in Biotechnology. I could try and explain it, but either my head would burst or I might have to kill you. So, the lab fees and class supply donations for our family this term have multiplied by three.

Which was probably worth it, since he may be spending more time with Mrs. L and Mrs. T than he is with his own family.

In rapid succession, we received flyers and permission slips for Senior Disneyland Trip, Panoramic Picture, Safe & Sober Grad Night, yearbook, and Senior Yearbook Messages (full or half page).

Just when we thought it was over enter Jostens: purveyor of all things Senior. A full-color catalogue with happy seniors, proud parents, and a whole lot of stuff.

Class rings, cap & gown, special tassels, announcements, thank-you cards, diploma frames, memory books, senior necklaces, pins, sweatpants, t-shirts, shorts, hoodies, key chains, and my personal favorite the Status Cards (like business cards for kids).

Luckily for us, my son thinks most of this stuff is silly. Like sweatpants that say “Senior 2011” down the leg, or a 2011 charm with rhinestones to hang from your tassel.


But November is also college applications month, and most schools have a November 30th deadline for applications to be submitted. With fees.

So by the time you’ve paid for the SAT 1 & 2, the ACT, AP exams, score reports, and application fees you start wondering if the bank will be calling to question the unusual activity levels on your credit card.

And you start hoping that this all pays off, and one day he’s able to support you in the lifestyle which you’ve yearned for since he was born.

Until you remember there’s another child waiting in the wings. A girl child, who thinks everything in that Jostens catalogue is cute and fun.

I think I had better order another checkbook.