Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Once Upon a Time in High School

It was finals week. The week where classes are extended so that you can have even more time to take tests on subjects you're pretty sure you should know more about. The week that says, Academics Are Important! The week that determines your final grades.

But this paled in comparison to the fact that baseball won state.

Or at least it did in the eyes of the principal. And so they interrupted finals--FINALS--and forced everyone to march into the gym so we could all sit and listen to praise heaped upon the heads of a handful of boys adept at slamming a wooden stick into a ball. Glory! Glory! It's AMAZING!

However, my problem wasn't with the sports teams--who worked very hard--but with what happened when the arts programs (band, orchestra, choir, debate, drama, dance, etc.) achieved similar levels of success.


We were lucky to get an announcement over the loudspeaker. "FFA members, your fees are due in the front office today. Also,
congratulations to the drill team who placed third in the nation."

It bothered me. So I decided to do more than point out the hypocrisy to my close friends. I figured the whole school should be on the same wavelength. I recruited a friend and we made a series of simple signs that went something like this:


Where's our assembly?


Where's our assembly?

So on and so forth, highlighting all of the programs that had been entirely ignored by a sports-obsessed administration. Right before the first class of the day when the halls were packed, my friend and I ran around, quickly taping them up all over the school.

By the end of first period, every single one of them had been taken down, and my friend, bless her heart, had been hauled into the principal's office for a very awkward talking-to. She never mentioned that not only had I helped, it was my idea in the first place. But word got out and my choir teacher, a conspiratorial grin on her face, let me know it was appreciated.

The ridiculous end to the whole story? During the graduation speech a week-and-a-half later, the principal went out of his way to heap praise on the school's arts program and note how much support they received from the administration. Sure. Whatever.

It was good for a laugh, I suppose.


Megs said...

Ha ha, I remember that episode. Don't you just love high school?!? So many fond memories...SOooo glad I'm not working with said principal now! :)

Renee Collins said...

Oh geez, that was one of my biggest rages in High School.

In Hawaii, we went to a school that was very isolated, the only one for nearly an hour in either direction. So, most away events were very far.

Well, I was on the debate team, and that meant that every Saturday morning we had to get up at 6:00 a.m. to meet, and then carpool to our tournaments. But how, you may ask, did the football team get to their away games?

Air conditioned charter buses.


heidikins said...

Ha! Those were good times. And I distinctly recall this bout of awesomeness at the (embarassing) expense of Jimmy *


Kayleigh said...

You're kidding! Haha. I wish I had the guts to do something like that in high school. The only interesting thing at my graduation was that we figured out my principal recycles his speeches to each graduating class. Well, that and the fact that I actually *graduated* from high school...but whatever.

Natalie said...

Ah, Jimmy. Those were special days at a special "World Class" high school.

Kiersten said...

Meg, heidikins, and Natalie--Good times. Good times that I am so, so, so glad are over.

Renee--I was going to say how bad that stinks, until I re-read the part about HAWAII. And then I was like, see if you get any pity out of the rest of us!!


Kayleigh--I was a punk in high school ; )

sraasch said...

Oh high school...why is lack of art-appreciation a universal high school problem? But I bet specialized art schools have assemblies when their drama teams win stuff. There is some hope.

Kasie West said...

Yeah, sports are big around these parts too. They always say it's because sports make the school money. Whatever, we in the drama department had to earn our own money and we put on killer shows. Love the flyers, that sounds fun. I wish I were a rebel in high school. LOL

Kiersten said...

Well, I was a rebel in my honors-and-AP-student, favorite-of-all-the-teachers-and-administration sort of way.

Of course, it meant I could get away with more...

AC said...

Sounds like your school's administrators were related to my school's good ol' boy administrators! Gotta love life in Alabama.
I did choir, show choir, drama, etc. Eventually we won so many awards and our football team sucked so bad that they couldn't ignore us any more.

What always irked me is that the choir/drama/band directors stayed after school just as long or longer than the coaches every day, but usually didn't receive as high of a stipend.

megs said...

Oh my goodness I had no idea that was you! But I was so glad somebody spoke up. Chamber Choir had taken 2nd place in a national competition weeks before and it had never been mentioned until I saw your little flyer in the hallway. Thanks a million!

Jim Star--blech. End of story.

Kiersten said...

AC--it's really unfair, isn't it?

Megs--ha, yeah, I was so annoyed with the school. Emma Duncan is the one who helped--and took all the heat!

Stephanie Perkins said...

I LOVE that you guys made those signs! You're my hero!!

Maybe it made the principal think about it a little harder the next year...

(Gah. Who am I kidding? Probably not. My high school principal was the same way with our football & baseball teams. Didn't matter that the drumline I was on was the best in the state. Not a single mention, even over the loudspeaker.)

But kudos to you anyway!

the Lola Letters said...

Ha ha! Gotta love that. What? -No freedom of speech/expression in the good old HS? Too bad. I thought high school was still in America, but I guess I was mistaken.

That is one awesome story.

Oh, and about the little girl pageant posts - I know, right? Crazy! Gross! Eeek!

Kiersten said...

Steph--yeah, I'm sure nothing changed. Except the principal, after a few years, lol...

Lola--that wasn't my only pushing-the-boundaries episode. I also passed a petition around the school because school-sponsored teams broke the school mandated dress code and I couldn't...didn't especially want to, but really, where's the justice in that? I can't wear a tanktop without being sent home, but they can FORCE me to attend an assembly where girls prance around in skin-tight tube tops?

Hmm...apparently assemblies annoyed me. A lot.

Sarah Laurenson said...

When I wound up in high school in Louisiana (after many years in good schools in New Jersey and being promised I was on the varsity field hockey team as soon as I set foot in the high school), I was appalled to learn there were no sports for the girls. They had 1, count 'em, 1 field hockey stick. They didn't let the girls play soccer because they "might get hurt", and softball was slow pitch only. I went for the drama club, speech club, etc. instead and ignored all the crappy (boy's) sports attention. They did eventually add a girl's basketball team. Of course, this was before Title 9 or whatever that ruling is called.

Annie said...

UN.BELIEVE.ABLE. What is with these people (as in, the administration, not you. You rocked)?!
This former-choir-pres-band-nerd-drama-chick still remembers the roaring angst monster waking up inside her gut when, in the middle of a rally, the student government punks decided that playing "Ready For This" over the loud speaker was cooler than listening to the band play the fight song.
It's so obnoxious how the arts are consistently obscured when it comes to their triumphs. Our football team had huge annual fundraisers and a beautiful stadium. Our performing arts department BUILT OUR OWN STAGE every time we needed one.
*breathes* Sorry. This is one of my pet rants. Reading about your protest made my day, though. That's awesome. :D