The Timeless Tradition of the Senior Lounge

Rachel Coplon, Reporter

The Senior Lounge, or “slounge,” is one of Emery’s many beloved traditions. The glass-walled room is a communal space for the seniors to relax, hang out, and enjoy themselves. The idea came from Head of School Stuart Dow in 2008 when he wanted to create a special area for the senior class. 

The first year Emery introduced the lounge, it was practically empty. There was no carpet or furniture, so Assistant Head of Upper School Dana Aboulafia donated a couch for the seniors until they figured out a plan to furnish the lounge. After meeting with senior leaders and interior designers, the lounge was completed with couches on every side of the wall and a ping-pong table in the center of the room. The action from the ping pong table can be seen from the school hallways, as Dow requested glass walls so the lounge would be physically secluded, but still a visible part of the school. It was important to Dow that the seniors had their own space, but remained involved in school activities and actively contributed to the school’s joyful atmosphere.

Over the years, the furniture and layout of the lounge have changed, but the tradition has remained the same. On the first day of school each year, there is a “senior surprise” in the lounge, where administrators and senior parents plan a fun activity for the seniors, often serving food from students’ favorite restaurants. After the surprise, the lounge closes until Dow presents the lease agreement, and every senior must sign it to agree to the protocols and expectations of the lounge in order to use the space. The signed lease agreement is then hung up outside the door of the lounge as a reminder for the seniors to respect the space and the privileges that come with it.

Senior Victor Markhasin signing the senior lounge lease argument. (Britney Ford)

Another tradition of the lounge is the “wall of rejection,” where seniors tape their college rejection letters outside of the lounge on the glass wall. This is intended to help seniors connect over the shared challenges in the college admissions process instead of feeling ashamed. In addition to rejection letters, seniors post notecards on the door of the lounge decorated with the college where they have committed.

Senior Ilsa Qureshi recently added her notecard to display her commitment to Emory University, and believes that this is a “way of showcasing all of the hard work that we have gone through to get to this exciting, pivotal point of our lives.” 

The door where seniors have started to post their commitment notecards. (Rachel Coplon)

Because of how important the lounge is for the seniors, the recent closing of the lounge due to the Omicron variant upset many seniors. This decision was made by the Medical Advisory Panel, Dow, Aboulafia, and Joe Weinstein-Sears, head of Upper School. Because the lounge is always packed with students sitting in close proximity to each other, and students eat and drink in there, they knew this would be a smart decision in helping slow down the spread of Covid-19, as cases in the Emery community were spiking. 

Senior Noa Strauss was one of the many seniors unhappy with the closure of the lounge, as she explained that it “felt like our greatest and most distinctive privilege was taken away.” All the seniors would hang out in the lounge together, but with the lounge closed the sense of togetherness was lost as seniors spread out all over the school during break and free period times. “It was hard to find all my friends because everyone was spread out, but in the lounge, we are all centralized,” says Strauss.

Now that the lounge has reopened, the seniors are grateful to have this space to “sit and talk with anyone because it is such an open and communal area the senior class shares,” Strauss continues. Aboulafia agrees and hopes every senior class can recognize the privilege and value of their lounge as it is a “very special place with meaning and history to it,” that no other grade at Emery has available to them.