The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Winston Spits it Out (Again): The Goal of Ed-chew-cation


As we returned to campus in the immediate wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, enforcing the ban on gum felt hyper-particular. You were coping with historic disconnect. You were dealing with thoughts of despair. You were managing feelings of fear. Focusing our efforts on continuing to ban gum would have felt like misplaced energy as we worked tirelessly to integrate you back into your education.

Today, we have moved into a new era. We no longer require students to wear masks, to distance themselves from others, to test their temperature upon entering school, or to take classes outside. The changes we have made, though, go beyond your physical health.

We now enforce deadlines and have less flexible grace periods for missed assignments. We believe that meeting deadlines matters. 

We no longer offer virtual models of learning. We believe that being present in the community strengthens our bonds. 

We no longer have wellness days planned into the school year. We believe that learning to manage healthy levels of stress builds our sense of self-efficacy. 

School as we know it has returned slowly over the past few years. That is a good thing.

Those of us charged with helping you grow into this world are not monsters for reinstating long-held school policies. We care deeply about you on a human level, and we think carefully about the lessons you learn here at school. We hope you understand that we come from a place of constant consideration as we map out your path through Poly. Just as we did during the COVID-19 pandemic, we reflect regularly on how to meet your individual needs in hopes of building a healthy school community.

We do not hate gum; we believe it can be helpful. Gum, though, is too often used in ways that diminish the value of our campus and our community. 

Take the time out of your day to look under the tables and desks of this school. You will find gum. 

Look at the pathways that connect our school. You will find gum. 

This was not always the case. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, gum was banned across campus. This policy was enforced regularly. It kept our community clean and taught students the importance of valuing our shared physical space. This is a lesson for school, of course, but also for society. As you advance beyond Poly, you will join a shared community that depends each and every day on individual choices.

These halls and this campus are mostly spotless and well-kept. Thanks to our amazing facilities, maintenance, and housekeeping teams, you learn in a pristine physical environment. The work these teams do for our community is immense and immeasurable. Beyond their regular duties, they are often distracted and maligned by having to clean up excess student waste in shared spaces like Commons, the Trophy Room, and the Student Center. Gum is part of this problem, posing greater difficulty to clean than the average article of student waste. When and where you don’t clean up, they do.

A community is more than just one person, and yet a community depends foundationally on the actions and behaviors of individuals. Of course, not everyone who chews gum on campus spits it out on the front steps. Not everyone who chews gum on campus sticks it on tables and desks. Our shared space, though, depends on none of us doing that. We do not have laws and policies because everybody is doing the wrong thing. We have laws and policies to limit the wrong thing from happening and to assert our shared values.

Should you need to chew gum in line with recommendations by a clinician in support of an individualized learning plan, we will never get in your way. We will always work to ensure students in need of accommodations receive the support they need to succeed in their education. 

Gum is otherwise prohibited on campus. How about a mint?

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Polygon: The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *