St. Louis is full of stereotypes: if you live in the Hill, you’re Italian; if you live in Dog town, you’re Irish. The number one question asked in St. Louis is “where did you go to high school?”
It’s true confession time. I am in fact Irish, and I did live in Dog Town for about two years until we moved to Shrewsbury. I can’t go a week without Ted Drewes, and I’ll even admit to the fact that when I meet someone for the first time, if they’re my age or older, I’ll ask them where they are going or went to high school.
In the past two years since I started high school, I’ve really noticed the stereotypes that surround the schools, along with the selection process. St. Louis is one of the few cities where private school or parochial school students undergo the application process: apply, write an essay or short answers, and then have an interview with someone at the school.
When you go to a St. Louis high school, it takes over your entire life: who your friends are going to be, where you’re going to end up going to college, and even your wardrobe. It becomes your life.
Most, if not all, of the parochial high schools have their “bad school nicknames,” like Nerinx Hall being “Maternity Hall,” Bishop Dubourg being the “Calvaqueers,” or Rosati Kain “Rosati Hotties.”
Stereotypes tend to surround the schools also. If you go to Desmet Jesuit, then you must be really mean. If you go to St. Louis University High School, then you must be okay sometimes but other times you can be a real jerk. If you go to Nerinx Hall, then you are just the same as everyone else.
Public schools have stereotypes surrounding them too. Fort Zumwalt is where the more “country” students go. Kirkwood is where the more “rich” students go. Oakville is defined as where the “party” students go.
For private schools, like Whitfield, Mary Institution and St. Louis Country Day School (MICDS), and John Burroughs are defined as where the incredibly rich, ridiculously smart and horribly snobby students go.
Beginning in seventh and eighth grade most students start to make their decision as to where they want to go for high school. They choose to follow what they want, what their parents want, or sometimes, what colleges want. They can go to public school, private school or parochial schools. Each of these schools offer extra help, advanced courses and a promise to a good college if you choose to go that route.
When you go from middle school to high school, it’s a whole new transition. You make new friends, you forge new relationships with teachers, and the schoolwork gets a lot harder
Still what I noticed, going from a private middle school to a public high school was two things. Most of the people in public school have already made their friendships in middle school or elementary school-and they’re not particularly enthused in including new people.
As for when people tend to go to private schools, the relationships between the two friends tend to evaporate. Even as adults the persistent question of “Where did you go to high school” still remains along with the stereotypes.
I guess there are not many things you can do to change the stereotypes of schools. After all you can’t change other people’s actions or thoughts, but you can change your own. Maybe something that we could do is just try to get to know someone from another school and not let our stereotypical views of who or what they could be, affect who they actually are.
The ECHO is a monthly publication of the newspaper staff of Webster Groves High School, 100 Selma Avenue, Webster Groves, MO. To contact staff members, call 314-963-6400 ex. 11157.
Unsigned editorials are the opinion of a majority of staff members; signed articles are the opinion of the writer.
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