June 6, 2009

High School: The Non-Fictional Version

Since young adult literature often features young adults as protagonists, it's not really surprising that a number of the stories are set in high school. But what draws people to read about this setting? I know I've read a number of posts/interviews where bloggers and authors alike reveal that they hated high school.

I've got a secret: I loved it.

And yeah, I like college better, but I had no problems with high school. Academically, I was a total geek and something of a teacher's pet. I did various UIL Academic events, specializing in Number Sense and Mathematics. (For those who don't live in Texas, the UIL sets the rules for interschool competition, for everything from athletics to band to academics. Also, Number Sense is a ten minute, eighty question mental math test - no scratch paper, no crossing out or erasing. It's more fun than it sounds, promise.) Heck, I went to State in it. And most everyone in my class knew that I was going to be valedictorian because my GPA was too high to overcome.

I was also quasi-popular.

Really, I don't know if I would've been so socially accepted at another high school. (Example: My class's prom queen was also a drum major.) Cliques were pretty diffuse, with people belonging to a number of groups. I can, off the top of my head, name at least six different social circles that I was a central member of, and I can think of many more in which I was welcome. I don't recall there being a king or queen of the high school, nor someone everyone knew was unpopular. Generally, people had at least a couple of friends. And someone was once thrown through a window during a fight, but there wasn't a bullying problem despite the rising gang activity.

I played an acorn with a bizarre voice in my friends' skit in the Senior Show. It was an adaptation a children's story the guy playing the onion wrote, which we wrote an epilogue to in order to turn it into an allegory for the plight of the indepented male entreprenuer. The other characters were a baked good and the narrator. One of two "sets" consisted of a poster reading: The Dark Forest (You can't see it because it's dark.). We got a standing ovation.

Despite the fact I was social with a number of people, I never went to a "teen party" during high school. (I did go to some sleepovers and such, but the wildest things we drank were Pixy Stix in Sprite Remix.) From talking to my other friends, none of them did either. I was sort-of friends with a cheerleader, who I learned did drink for the first time the day before graduation while she was doing my make-up and hair for graduation.

So I think I like a lot of fictional high schools because they're nothing like my own, which wasn't a great catalyst for drama. There were some dramas, like when one of my groups of friends split because the two leaders got into an argument - it was awkward for a couple of months for the four or so of us that remained friends with both sides.

What were ya'll's high school (or equivalent) experiences like? Did it resemble anything in a book or movie, or was it completely different? Did you love it or hate it? How disjointed was my ramble?


  1. I like it, too. It's fun to read about stuff that doesn't necessarily happen or that can't really happen as it does in books.

  2. great topic. I'm watching Can't Hardly Wait right now. High school! I had a pretty good high school experience. No major complaints. I did well in sports and did well in school. I got student of the year award from two different teachers. I actually think my high school is a pretty good basis for my own writing and I'm happy I went there. But I wouldn't say high school was perfect. My family moved away and I hardly talk to anyone from there anyway, I just keep up with them on Facebook. It's fun to read about different high school experiences in books.

  3. What a coincidence. I was going to vlog about my high school experience this week!

  4. Wow, I got to say I envy you right now. (Having my books out and gonna study for exams but it's a bit difficult for me at the moment).

    My parents would love you so much right now if you were their daughter. They are pretty disappointed with me because I'm not doing so well in my math and science courses.

    High school is pretty boring for me. Nothing like the books or movies. Like, it is completely uneventful. There are a few cliques but it's not like they rival against other people. I live in a well off neighbourhood so there isn't any gang fights or whatnot. But if you travel to other schools, yea maybe. I don't like high school. Don't hate it but I don't like it. Can't wait till I graduate next year.

  5. My high school experience sounds quite a lot like yours, actually. And I'm surprised to find myself saying that. While I'm still not sure if I like college better or not, it was definitely better than high school. I always had a sense of my high school as being an okay place to be a student. From one angle my experience wasn't BAD; I wasn't bullied or anything, and yeah, the valedictorian/semi-popular thing I can relate to. (Although not the prom queen = drum major thing... if only...) But visiting it, and seeing all the things that I didn't even know existed when I attended--peer pressure, girls with too much makeup and too little clothing, guys trying to be macho, conservative close-minded classmates who rolled their eyes and talked back at every suggestion you made--seeing those things in a brighter light now makes me stand by my opinion: my high school experience wasn't bad, but boy, I'm not going back there if I can help it.

  6. I enjoyed high school too. I had a bunch of great friends and was really involved in stage crew and drama club among other things. I had a really fun time and quite often think about all the great times I had with my friends. I did love college a lot more because I felt I could be myself more (it helps when everyone doesn't know each other, lol) and that's when I came out.

    It is great to hear that you and other commenters had a good time in high school, as it does seem to be prevalent that high school sucked, lol.

  7. @Sadako: You put if far more concisely than me.

    @Shalonda: At least we have Facebook to keep in touch with people. I'll admit I haven't kept my relationships very close with high school friends. I'm a terrible correspondent.

    @Diana Dang: I pay for the book smarts by lacking common sense. There are many ways to disappoint parents. (But many ways to make them proud too!)

    Nothing wrong with uneventful sometimes. And there wasn't much to the gang activity, though I've heard it's worse now. *shrug* Not something that affected my circles.

    @Steph Su: Well, I was naive too. (Any of my friends that did drugs? That had to be pointed out to me.) I pretty much agree with your last statement. While I enjoyed it, I don't really want to go back. It was fine for what it was but I'm past that.

    @BookChic: Yay for another person who liked high school! Being really invovled in a club helps so much. I've never had a problem with being myself since I lack certain social graces, but I'm glad you had that opportunity in college! (One thing good about my high school - we had a large number of openly gay people despite being a small-town Texas high school.)

    Maybe I'll write something like this again when I finish college . . .

  8. I didn't mind high school. I am not going to say I loved it or anything, but I had my share of good times and fun.

  9. Hey there. Love this post. And, oh don't hate me, but: my high school experience sort of mirrored the one in that book, UNDERCOVER.



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