Moment of What?

Rithika Ashok, Assistant Features Editor

Students discuss what they do during the moment of silence.

The bell rings in the packed hallways, forcing students to drop their conversations mid-way and rush off to their first class. People file into class, phones are taken out for a quick morning skim of Instagram, homework is turned in, pencils are borrowed and conversations are started; all occurring during the minute of silence.

Though this morning tradition has been a part of Virginia public school curricula in some form since 1987, it remains controversial to this day. The intended purpose is to provide students and faculty with a short period for prayer, meditation or reflection about past, present and future events.

In a world where people are constantly plagued by tragic events, one would think the minute of silence would be a significant part of a student’s day. Despite the policy that requires students to honor the minute of silence, it is easy to find students and even teachers violating the rule.

Morning chaos buries the minute of silence beneath all the events of the day. Teachers pass out warm-ups and students plug their computers into the nearest empty sockets. When they finally settle down and glance at the screen, it has already proceeded to announcements for the day. Some students, however, do appreciate the time they are given each morning.

“I reflect about my day and what my goals are for the day, and on top of that, I think about how I got there,” sophomore Prithvi Kinariwala said. “It puts some thought and reflection onto your day, and it should be used as a way to reflect about your day and everything you are going to do for the day.”

Other students believe that the minute of silence is an unimportant accessory added to the day.

“I don’t think anyone has [participated in the minute of silence] since elementary school when they forced us to [be silent],” junior Tanvi Nallanagula said. “I think the minute of silence makes sense for individuals who do it on their own, whenever they feel like it, so I don’t think it has to be a school thing where everyone does it together because it’s kind of unnecessary.”

Many students don’t reflect or pray, but they still believe that the minute of silence is a significant component of a school day.

“I just put down my pencil, listen and don’t really do anything,” freshman Dana Ablimit said. “You just sit there, pay your respects, and you don’t have to be disrespectful and talk. People don’t really realize how important it is.”

Although the minute of silence may seem like an afterthought to many of us, it’s not just students who feel this way; some teachers don’t respect it either, as they don’t enforce the silence in their classrooms.

“The teachers just tell us to be quiet but they don’t really care if we are doing work during the minute of silence,” Nallanagula said.

This apathetic attitude toward the minute of silence takes away from a positive school environment where students are actively participating and respecting the required elements that the school puts forth each day. A positive environment involves students who respect and take part in the activities the school requires. When students disregard the minute of silence, there is a general acceptance that everyone can talk and be on their phones.  In addition, high school students should be able to restrain themselves for 1 minute each day. The school is asking no herculean feat, and students should simply respect and follow the rules.

Students aren’t forced to participate; they are simply required to sit silently and respect other people who are reflecting or praying. This brief introduction to the day should be used for its intended role, instead of a minute to scroll through your Instagram feed.