My Magnet, My Mistake?

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This past year, Magnet has undergone many changes, one of which includes a new saying: “My Magnet.” But what is it?  It’s not a motto – that is the illustrative “Erudito et Honor”  which replaced the former era’s “Seriously Smart.”  Our new alliterative saying is a slogan? A marketing tool? A spirit enhancer?  We’re not sure. However many in the Academic Magnet community, students and teachers alike, are not entirely on board with the “My Magnet” movement.”

In an assembly early into the school year, the senior class gathered in the cafeteria for a presentation introducing Mr. Perlmutter, the author of “My Magnet,” and heard his explanation of the phrase. While I’m sure other grades were subject to a similar lecture, I can only speak from the collective confusion of the senior class. After repeatedly chanting “My Magnet” in a call-and-response format led by Mr. Perlmutter, students giggled at the phrase, unsure of its intended meaning or purpose. Most of us assumed the motto would fall into the cracks and be forgotten, but in the following weeks of August “My Magnet” began to adorn hallway walls, suggesting a strong administrative push behind it. 

As the year progressed, “My Magnet” still lingered in the background of the Academic Magnet social sphere with little context. To understand the widespread student uncertainty of “My Magnet,” we reached out to some of our peers, asking their thoughts on the saying and seeing what it meant to them, if anything.

 

It’s so bad.. It doesn’t make any sense”

— Kaylin Morris, 12

I just don’t get it.. It just sounds like you own your own magnet?”

— Kristen Mcleod, 11

 

It reminds me of elementary school”

— Regan Brown, 12

 

Two other seniors we accosted for a statement called the phrase “cheesy” and found it “embarrassing to chant.” Alas, these students were unwilling to have their names released to the expansive Talon reader base. However, none of these comments helped us to truly get to the bottom of “My Magnet’s” meaning. For that, we took our questions to the source himself, Mr. Perlmutter.

Gracie Mochizuki: Why did you decide to change the motto to My Magnet? 

Mr. Perlmutter: Actually, we didn’t change the school motto. The school motto is still “Eruditio et honor” and previous to that it was “Seriously Smart.”  The idea for MyMagnet came about because last year, students felt a sense of disconnection with their school… Because of the pandemic schools were forced into postures that were safer — limited classroom capacity, at-home learning, shortened or canceled athletic seasons, lack of extracurricular activities, clubs, travel, competition, cohorting student groups, split lunches, irregular student and teacher attendance, and on and on. Obviously, that happened everywhere, not just at Magnet, but the reason that it was uniquely disheartening at Magnet is that this school is built on connections, on spirit, and on community.  Dozens of students wrote me personal letters at the end of last school year, some as classroom assignments (Thank you Ms. Akery) and some as just informative welcome letters, and the most prevalent sentiment was that students wanted to get back to feeling like this was their school. My Magnet was just a way to say to students, right off the bat- This is your school and you can make it what you want it to be… This is your high school. These are your high school years. This is your time. This is your space. 

 

GM: What does My Magnet mean to you? 

Mr. Perlmutter: For me, My Magnet was and is a place where the environment is positive, scholastic, and inclusive. A place where students, faculty, and staff have really special relationships that are warm and encouraging and a place where big dreams and personal growth are just a way of life… I’m not sure how many people have such positive high school experiences that they go back to their school, but I think I’m one of only a few (Shout out here to Ms. Frazier and Dr. Hay!)

 

GM: What do you want My Magnet to mean to the students?

Mr. Perlmutter: I’m not invested in what the words mean to students. Here is what I care about- I want the school, our school, your school, Academic Magnet High School to mean something special to you. I want you to reflect on your high school years with the same sense of belonging that I have. I want the next bunch of students to write letters that proudly say, “This is my school. This is my Magnet!”

 

Thank you.”

— Mr. Perlmutter

 

All this considered, we still have some personal grievances with the new school slogan. As seniors, I guess none of us expected such a significant change in school identity during our final year as Raptors. While the phrase is catchy, we find it unbelievably corny and easy to mock. Instead of inspiring school pride, the motto gives a confusing correlation between personal identity and school spirit. Our student body and parent organizations are filled with overwhelming support for Academic Magnet; what does this slogan aim to accomplish? Why change an environment that already has a healthy relationship with school spirit?

I think that most would agree that Magnet students have a tremendous amount of school pride. Compared to the surrounding high schools, Magnet students have an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the environment this school provides. At the end of the day, “My Magnet” has brought many of us some good laughs, becoming easily incorporated into many inside jokes amongst Raptors. While this definitely was not the intention of the phrase, one could argue that harmlessly poking fun at the new administration has united the student body. Not to say the new administration is bad; we merely find the slogan to be a “miss” from the student perspective. Personally, it feels similar to TV shows overusing outdated slang to appeal to teens. Well-intentioned, just not at all relatable to the intended audience. 

What do you think of "My Magnet?"

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For a ranking of every “My Magnet” slogan hanging in the halls, see Mark Owen’s article!