Get off The Oval


By Alexandria Buchanan

The tradition of staying off The Oval until graduation has been going on for years.

Alexandria Buchanan, editor

The famous grassy patch in front of A Building, guarded by the statue of President William McKinley, is known to McKinley students, alumni and staff as “the oval.” Whether you have seen it as you walk to and from classes, or have been yelled at for walking on its sacred ground, all on campus are aware of its existence.

Legends have spread saying if you step on the oval before graduation, you won’t graduate. Shirts donning the phrase “Get off the oval” in all capitals are worn by students, promoting this revered egg-shaped plot of weeds and grass on campus. The oval has all of this power and hype on campus, yet I can not understand why it is so special.

Perhaps this tradition is a way to keep students away from the statue in order to preserve it longer and keep us from damaging it. However, the McKinley statue is over 100 years old. The significance of this historic piece is obvious and needs no ring of grass to protect it from those in the know.

Once in a while, you can see visitors sitting on the base of the statue, unaware of the tradition of this highly regarded patch of grass on campus. If the statue needs protection, there would be signs or a fence to keep people off.

Many students have already stepped on the oval for pictures or volunteer work as well. Before our football field was built, the football team would take their individual pictures on the oval. Students have had to volunteer for graduation set up and stepped across it to put down chairs. Those students weren’t “cursed.”

All incoming freshmen are schooled at freshmen orientation about the oval’s “sacredness.” However, upperclassmen who are new to the school may not know about this tradition and step on it by accident. Imagine being yelled at to get off this seemingly innocent plot of grass when you’re just trying to get to class. So much for a welcoming environment.

Seniors get the “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to walk across this patch on their graduation day. The day they’ve waited and worked hard toward for years. Rather than getting their names announced to their proud family and friends on this symbolic day, they get permission to walk across the grass. The tradition of staying off the oval until graduation seems to be our replacement for name calling, and I don’t believe this is a sufficient trade. Name calling has been fought for by students and parents, yet their voices are ignored while we spend our time telling people to get away from grass.

Requesting others to stay away from the statue, rather than the grass, is a much more reasonable request due to the historic significance of the century-old piece. The statue sits in the middle of the large grassy area, and it would not be a big deal if students were to walk across it throughout the school day.

Rather than using our voices to tell people to stay off the grass, we should take the time to listen to the opinions of our students. Our energy is being spent in the wrong places. the oval tradition is an inconvenience we have all been taught to not only abide but promote at MHS. Preservation of the statue is important. However, keeping us off the oval to make it an “honor” to walk across on graduation day as a substitute for name calling is irrational.