We are at the end of the week of Valentine’s Day, known at MacDuffie as Heart Week. During this week, students are randomly given a “heart person.” Often times, the only thing that these students have in common with one another is that they are both in either the upper or middle school. So, in order to find gifts for their heart week person, everyone simply makes a vague assumption on what that person may enjoy. I find it quite strange that you are required to blindly attempt to give someone you have never before met a gift they find enjoyable.
I do think that the new format for Heart Week is significantly better than the format that had been used for decades until the 2017-2018 school year. In those years, everyone was forced to participate, and many were unwilling. Because of this, certain people simply didn’t get anything for their heart person. Others would merely grab an apple from the lunchroom the morning of heart week to serve as their gift. As a result, many people bought items for others without receiving anything genuine in return. Additionally, people might now feel the need to participate because everyone was required to do so in the past. They might feel that everyone will continue to participate, noting that it might be frowned upon if they choose not to do the same. Furthermore, many new students at the school haven’t experienced heart week before. All they see are their friends participating, and they assume that most other people are as well. This can make them feel forced to participate. Then, these people become the ones who reluctantly participate year after year, and they contribute to this constant cycle of unwilling participants repeatedly making a rough attempt to give a gift to someone every year.
I understand that there is a group of people who enjoy Heart Week, and that’s great. I’m not trying to offend anyone who has enjoyed Heart Week for years, because many people enjoy the concept of having someone give them gifts at random and then having to guess that person. My problem is that they will encourage their friends who are new to the school. This results in more people participating in heart week, even though they may be reluctant of the idea. Because of their encouragement of Heart Week, others often participate even though they may not enjoy it in the first place. Frankly, I know that the school won’t ever take away the concept of Heart Week, nor do I think that they should, because there are students who do enjoy the tradition. My purpose in this article is to encourage students to read, and to think critically of long-standing traditions such as Heart Week. Perhaps you may choose not to participate again in the future if you are someone who is on the fence about the whole concept of Heart Week.
The most absurd thing that I have found out about heart week is how your heart person is determined. Two people from the upper school or from the middle school are selected at random. Then they must guess what gift the other might like. And even this isn’t a guarantee; I had multiple friends last year who, as middle schoolers, were paired with upper schoolers; some of them didn’t even know who the upper schoolers were. The goal in many people’s eyes is for students to make new friends, yet you spend a week guessing what someone may like without really learning anything about them. If this is your goal in Heart Week, you may as well just go to the student center or the computer lab and introduce yourself to five people that you don’t know; this is essentially the same thing, except it takes 5 minutes instead of 5 days. On top of this, once in a while you’ll receive someone who you are actually friends with in the first place. This may make things fun for you, but at this point, you can always get gifts for all of your friends during Heart Week and celebrate with those who you are close with. All of this simply makes for a faulty concept of school spirit that often never works at all.
Another crazy detail about Heart Week is that your “heart person” is supposed to be a secret. I understand that this makes a game out of Heart Week that many people enjoy, but the fact that you can’t talk to this person in the first place makes things much more complicated throughout the course of the week. You could go to the store and buy some gifts for your friends or those you are close to knowing what would make them smile during the week of Valentine’s Day. That’s a great idea that allows you to have fun with those people that are close to you. But instead, you are given a little red slip of paper with someone’s name in it, and you have to, oftentimes, pick out something at random that looks like something your “heart person” may enjoy.
Overall, I firmly believe that the entire concept of Heart Week has been flawed from the start, not to mention the necessity that many people feel to participate in the first place. If you don’t enjoy this concept, or have been skeptical of it in the first place, I encourage you to take a year off in the future where you don’t participate to see how you like it. But don’t just take my opinion on the matter. Feel free to try this out to see how you like it if you’re on the fence. You’ll never know how much you will enjoy something until you try it for the first time. If you love Heart Week (no pun intended) then keep going, keep enjoying it, and don’t let my opinion get in the way. But for those of you who have considered whether or not to do it at all, next year, consider sitting out, and see how you like it; see how it changes your point of view on Heart Week as a whole.
Want another point of view? Check out this article defending Heart Week, written by co-Editor-in-Chief Alison Jackson.