Serra Sowers

When vying for seniors superlatives, the balance always seems to tip in the favor of IB students.

In the past years, the tradition of the “Golden Noles” has evolved into a rivalry among the senior class. This annual superlative contest involves students voting for seniors to win a variety of characterized awards, such as “Best Smile,” “Best Dressed,” “Class Clown,” or “Most Likely to Succeed.”

“It’s crazy. It’s kind of a popularity contest, but everyone has their own groups in school. So it’s just [about] who you know in your group that fits the categories,” said Health Academy senior Amir Serajzadeh.

However, the Golden Noles have caused controversy because students only vote for those in their program: Traditional, Health Academy, or International Baccalaureate (IB). This allows students in close-knit programs– particularly IB, due to their class size– to ensure that their IB classmates are over-represented at the Golden Noles, even though IB comprises a tiny minority of the student body. The Seminole has calculated that out of the fifty winners in 2017, nineteen were IB students, ten were Health Academy, and twenty-one were Traditional. Thus, IB students are statistically represented out of proportion to their population size.

The allegation of IB “block-voting” has been especially controversial. It is rumored that in past years, IB students have planned in advance as to who they will collectively vote for using an online spreadsheet or a private Facebook group. This undermines the votes of students from other programs, who do not engage in such concerted action.

“Nobody in traditional is trying that hard to win, [but] IB block voting ruins a chance for other kids to even get nominated,” complained Traditional senior Dominick Esposita. “Any category, an IB kid usually wins. I do agree that some of it is dependent on popularity, but some of it just depends on people who know you around school.”

With IB working together to nominate and award members of their own program, the other programs’ students claim that they don’t have an equal chance at winning. This unfairness, they claim, is not only limited to the Golden Noles, but also to homecoming court and other school-wide popularity contests.

“IB cheats in everything, as they block vote for everything, which pretty much ruins so many school activities like homecoming court,” claimed Serajzadeh. “IB kids are winning when no one even knows their name or anything. It’s just a silly title specific high schoolers get to laugh about.”

However, IB seniors deny that the Golden Noles are an unfair process. They argue that the so-called “block-voting” is a natural phenomenon, arising from the fact that IB students don’t know many from outside their program. In other words, it’s not an intentional conspiracy on the part of IB students to prevent anyone else from winning.

“I think since we are all such a close knit bunch of kids and a lot of us don’t know many other kids, we end up voting for each other,” said IB senior Sahil Kapadia. “Golden Noles aren’t that big of a deal [to me], maybe just a funny recognition that you can carry with you and laugh about with friends.”

In spite of the controversy, the senior class agrees that they are excited for the end-of-year festivities, and that they plan to leave campus the way they entered it: together.