Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The in crowd

That's what's on my mind this Monday. (It's still Monday in California:) I just finished INTO THE WILD NERD YONDER by Julie Halpern. The book was very much about seeking out where you belong in high school. Are you one of the nerds? Should you roll with the punks? Or do you have what it takes to be one of the cool kids.

I see this a lot in books and on tv, but that's just not how it was for me and it's often difficult for me to relate. I did have my group of friends in school and most of us are still close now, ten years after secondary school. (For those of you not educated in the British system, secondary school is like Hogwarts. You start at 11, at 16 you have major regional exams, at 18 you have another set. But you can leave school at 16, and of the 22 government secondary schools on my island, only 4 go to 18 anyhow.)

In Barbados we don't go to secondary school by zone, but rather by the scores we get in an exam we take at 11. So students are all at around the same level and we're from all over the island. I went to the top high school, HC. So even the non-nerds were brilliant.

At first, I hung out with the people I knew. I came from a small school, and in my first year, there were only 3 people from my primary school at HC, and neither of them had been great friends of mine. I ended up sitting next to a girl I'd gone to lessons with, and being friends with her. And also with a boy who had gone to my primary school until about 7 and then changed schools. Then I became involved in Girl Guides (= British Girl Scouts) and my clique was the Guides and Boy Scouts. But we didn't have a "thing". When we hung out, what we talked about had nothing to do with Guides or Scouts and we were not identified with being Guides or Scouts- except that we hung out at the Scout Hut.

We just were. Is it that rare? For secondary/high school students to just be? Without a label? We just hung out? And over the years, we kind of became popular for it. We didn't have entrance requirements: you didn't need to be this pretty, or this smart, or this rich. You just needed to be!

What clique did you subscribe to? What was your "thing" in high school?


Postman said...

Well, you certainly are a unique individual after all! In the purest sense of the word. Didn't lump yourself in (or get lumped in) with any particular clique. Nice work.

I used double-speak on myself. I refused to classify myself in high school, calling myself a nonconformist...and thereby classifying myself. I was also the self-proclaimed class clown, but I had some hot competition there. But as for the cliques...well, it's hard to explain. I hung out with the smart kids, but not the ULTIMATE smarties, the nerds. We were the worst of the best, you might say. The people who pulled excellent grade point averages (almost-perfect scores, in other words) and yet still did irresponsible things like drive over the speed limit, freak-dance at prom, swear like sailors, and (I'm sure some of my friends did this) take drugs and drink.

Thought-provoking post, Claire. I had fun reading it.

ElbieNy25 said...

My group of friends changed every year. The one thing they all had in common was that they weren't identifiable cliques by any means. My freshman year of HS I didn't really have any friends, Sophomore year it was a group of girls (4 of them knew each other since diaper days) and we called ourselves Da' Crew. Pretty lame, but at the time we thought it was cool. Junior year I hung out with some freshman for the first 1/2 of the year and then kind of did my own thing for the second half. My senior year I hung out with mostly freshman and some sophomores. For the most part I didn't get along with people in my own grade.

I did Girl Scouts too, but none of us really hung out together outside of our events.

Christi Goddard said...

I was in track so was friends with jocks. I was in Math Club and KEY Club (kawanis educating youth) so I was friends with 'nerds.' I was in Pep Club, so friends with popular girls. I spent my lunch break with the stoners, smoking cigarettes across the street. I also preferred their company on the weekends because I found them to be more honest and less caught up in the whole clique thing. They were just people, and I preferred being with people who made no judgements about me.

Claire Dawn said...

Thanks for the feedback. I didn't grow up in America, so my concept of American high school comes from books and tv, and even I know it's pretty skewed.

In contemporary YA books especially there seems to be no representation of the non-clique school. And even less representation of the kid, who like Christi (and like me) belonged to more than one club.

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