Being part of this school community since Kindergarten, I have passed through each grade and I have come to multiple understandings about this school. Firstly, due to how small and homogeneous the student body is, we have an established caste system for all students. No matter what growth or changes you undergo, you’re stuck with the same image that you’ve been branded since elementary school. On the other hand, the school is quite clean and safe, and overall, the administration at the school is really quite good. But the majority of the student body seem to be clones, branching off the same tree. No one daring to be ‘too’ different, and instead of thinking for themselves, following the rules of their individual cliques. I observe in borderline disgust at ubiquitous brands of Nike, Ugg Boots and Northface jackets. How, with the opportunity of every free minute, their eyes are glued to their touch phones, obsessed with their meaningless social media, taking selfies and playing mind-numbingly simple games. It is far too often all about me, me, me.
This community, due to its seclusion and high standards, only reinforces this sense of entitlement that wafts in the air. An overwhelming majority of kids feel they deserve a car for their 16th birthday, or they stare at you in awe when you don’t have the newest iPhone. Ultimately, you are somewhat alienated from the clique the less “sporty” you are, and the less you refuse to nod your head with the rest of the flock.
But one of the greatest disappointments this school has to offer is what the students did when given the chance to decorate the halls to their liking. Instead of being creative and thinking of an interesting way to express themselves, they reveal how little substance there is to their character. How, you might be asking? They would plaster the hallways with popular female celebrities, claiming that it is in the name of “women’s power”. But what truly boggles my mind is why are so many of these “strong” women displayed are also, in part or in some cases prominently, known for whoring out their body for money, and not even writing their own music or even lyrics?
In fact, most of these female celebrities are working AGAINST the progress of gender equality by reinforcing the subliminal messages that plague the minds of so many teenage girls today: showing as much skin as possible and being dangerously skinny are just undesirable qualities they model. I tried comforting myself by thinking perhaps this was a one time phenomenon, reflective more of the Andy Warhol artistic mindset instead of focusing on what faces should be on a wall in a school. But not too far after, they also defaced the long standing valedictorian section with (you guessed it) more celebrities! This time with people like Charlie Sheen, and despite the provocative question posed about “who are our idols”, the visual impact is still denigrating what otherwise would be a simple display for scholastic success. To prove that the culture of the school (which was already lacking) is quickly dying, this year paintings of commercial advertisements are displayed, instead of anything unique or from the heart. While this might be staying true to the pop art sensibilities of Andy Warhol, it is time for artwork more transcendent within these walls.
Still, there are some great things about this school, including safety, plenty of technology and, for the most part high quality faculty. It’s strange to realize that the friendships that I treasure as I leave are the ones that I have made with some of the teachers here. Perhaps it is because they are real people, full of flaws, but with their own thoughts and original perceptions, and not trapped in some mind-numbing trance of “dabbing” and “vining” like most of my classmates.
So as a Senior on the cusp of finally leaving, here are some tips for the few unique individuals who actually continued to read my editorial:
1) Do not care about what the student body says behind your back, because I guarantee to you that no matter how hard you try, people will find excuses to insult you if they want to.
2) Being rejected by this group is a GOOD sign, because it means you might actually have a chance of thriving in the real world.
3) Remember how insignificant most of your problems are. I mean seriously, most people in the school think their problems are SO hard and relevant it saddens me by how spoiled and disillusioned they really are.
4) Finally, remind yourself that in the real world there is no established hierarchy, that you CAN change your image, your financial status and your life. No matter how consistently stale and established the social groups are in this pond of a school, remember that their is a gigantic ocean out there, and you can be whoever you want to, simple as that.
How to Pop the Bubble
For those who understand where I am coming from, or find themselves wanting to pop their own bubble, I would suggest expanding your horizons. Read books that are outside your comfort level, get involved in things happening in Pittsburgh, try to explore your identity because in all honesty you know very little about yourself. But most importantly, keep things in perspective. Remind yourself how little the world you live in is, and how little the people around you know, even if they pretend to be so sure of their wisdom without recognizing their very sheltered outlook.