I went to an extremely homogenous high school. It was a selective school aspiring to be a private school. We were told what to wear (horrible poo-brown and white stripey uniforms), how to behave and how to think. There were very few Asian students in the mix (though I believe now that has changed because Asian students are smart and competitive) – it was mainly WASP, European day students and the kids of farmers.
There were two distinctions – the day kids (affectionately and not-so-affectionately called Daygos) and the Boarders. (I cannot express the tone of the word in writing but the two syllables were both emphasised slowly to imitate how country people spoke). The day kids and the boarders mixed but each looked down on the other group with contempt. The day kids because they had no idea of a hard day’s work, and the kids from the land were considered to be a bit slow on the uptake and got extra days off school because they had to catch the train home before the holidays began.
There were none of the tribes that we see today such as Goths, Emos, surfies. Boys’ hair was not to touch the collar. Only one pair of studs were allowed as earrings, definitely no other body piercings, skirts were supposed to be a certain length and closed-in black polished school shoes were mandatory.
There was a heirarchy from year sevens to year twelves. In year seven, you were a “pleb”, and sometimes the seniors would adopt a “pet pleb” which loosely translated to slave.
Because it was a selective high school, being smart was not a bad trait as it can be in other high schools. Instead the students were highly competitive, expected to turn into doctors, lawyers, politicians (turned out one of those and he lasted a real long time) and fighter pilots. Instead some of us sunk into the mediocre middle ground of no longer being the smart one, but with not enough stimulus in the correct fields such as creativity, we found our outlets elsewhere.
From the position of my school, I am a failure of their education. I have not become a doctor, lawyer or fighter pilot. Instead I spent many years working as an Arts Administrator and Box Office Manager (incredulous converstation with teacher from my former high school: “You went to HAHS and now you work in a box office?”), then moved into a dayjob with government and a night job allowing my imagination to go wild, writing. (One day they’ll be begging me to come back as a celebrated and successful CREATIVE alumni!)
So there were no ‘tribes’ at our school and highly individualistic minds found it difficult to find a place to belong.
There were some pockets of popularity. A couple of girls who were good-looking and willing to sacrifice their smarts (well, I assume they had them to get into the school in the first place – we all had to sit exams) to hang out with the boys. I won’t repeat their nicknames here, suffice to say that there nicknames reflected the theories of why these girls were so popular. And these girls had a highly-tuned habit of making other girls feel like crap. Best avoided at all costs.
My school had also been a boys only school up until the year before I started, so all of the girls were desperately trying to find a way of belonging. Part of the deal of opening the school up to co-ed was there would be no changes to the curriculum to “pander” to the girls. So there was no home economics, instead I tried Tech Arts, Woodwork and lots of boy subjects. Agricultural was a compulsory subject to the end of year ten so I can milk a cow, was pulled out of a maths class to watch ‘our sow’ give birth, but I couldn’t bring myself to stick a needle in a piglet or shear a sheep. There was no way I was going to be a vet.
Thankfully, Art was introduced as a subject by the time I became a Senior so I had some outlet for my creative tendencies, but it was before ‘Drama’ had evolved into a subject in the New South Wales Education system.
I spent my high school years hanging out with an assortment of kids ranging from year seven to year twelve. We were all misfits of some variety. All marching to the sound of our own drum. We called ourselves ‘The Unelite Elite’. We met up on weekends and went rollerskating. But as the older kids finished school, the friendships dropped off. And then I was a senior. Once my friends and I were seniors, we didn’t adopt kids from the lower years. We just stuck with our own kind, and friendships varied from subject to subject,and different friendships were found outside school. My life was outside high school. The politics of high school had become irrelevant to me, and my only goal was to survive it and move on. Which I did.
Which brings me to the question, why would vampires choose to go to high school over and over? How boring! There is so much more scope and fun to be had at University.
I am so glad that my high school years are over!