USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘high school’
Digital
Humor

Keith Country Day School Lead in the Water Meme

IMG_7080The following is the background of the meme account of Keith School and a description of a meme about lead occurring in drinking water at Keith School from a conversation with NC. Attached is the respective meme.

 

Started in 2016, the seniors of Keith Country Day School created the @keithcountrymemeschool Instagram account. The purpose of the account was to mock and tease the faculty and school rules. Every year, one senior runs the account and takes into consideration the ideas of his/her peers. The memes are a collection of spin-offs of already well-known memes and original memes. Some of the memes even have faculty members’ faces photoshopped onto the picture. The account was made private, so as not to let faculty members see the page. Below is the description of a meme from the page, described by the senior from the class of 2018 who created it.

 

NC: This meme is kind of like a 2.0 version of a previous meme published on the page. In the previous meme, the joke was about how if your water wasn’t filtered by reverse osmosis, it wasn’t good enough to drink, a concept that started when the school brought in some fitness guru and she had the strangest rules she insisted people follow if they wanted to be healthy, including the reverse osmosis thing. So, the picture in the meme shows the lady spitting out the water in the picture with the caption “When your water isn’t filtered by reverse osmosis.” I redesigned that meme as this one, to fit another one of Keith’s long list of problems. It was released earlier that week that students and faculty should stop drinking the drinking fountain water in the school’s buildings because it had just come to the school’s attention that there were high levels of lead in the water, unhealthy for anyone to be drinking. Keith students found this funny though because it’s such a “Keith” thing to happen; of course, our school would have lead in the water, it’s already so run down and has so many other problems that it really wasn’t that surprising. So, all I had to do was cross out the reverse osmosis part of the original meme and put in “filled with lead” at the end and the meme was even funnier in my opinion because now it was poking fun at Keith. Kind of like, we were such high-class, fancy, private school kids, that we only drank water with lead in it.

 

My Interpretation:

Keith School is a private school, and although I’m sure that not everyone who attends is incredibly wealthy, there are definitely enough kids who are that earns the school its reputation for being very expensive and high quality for rich kids. So, it’s easy to see how, when mistakes as bad as lead being found in the water are made by the school, it makes them look really bad, especially with the reputation they have made for themselves. This, along with other happenings at the school, pokes holes in this reputation, and allows for the students who attend the school to make fun of how dingy, worn down, or ridiculous the school is for having such a bad lead problem. It seems that this irony is what makes the meme funny to the students.

Digital
Humor

Keith Country Day School Student Body Meme

IMG_7081The following is the background of the meme account of Keith School and a description of a meme about the student body of Keith School from a conversation with NC. Attached is the respective meme.

 

Started in 2016, the seniors of Keith Country Day School created the @keithcountrymemeschool Instagram account. The purpose of the account was to mock and tease the faculty and school rules. Every year, one senior runs the account and takes into consideration the ideas of his/her peers. The memes are a collection of spin-offs of already well-known memes and original memes. Some of the memes even have faculty members’ faces photoshopped onto the picture. The account was made private, so as not to let faculty members see the page. Below is the description of a meme from the page, described by the senior from the class of 2018 who created it.

 

NC: This meme is a spin-off of the popular meme with a surprised boy gesturing and looking at a butterfly in the right-hand corner and a caption at the bottom asking a question. If you want to see other examples of this meme, you can look up “butterfly man meme” in a search engine. I did a spin-off of that meme by photoshopping Keith’s image on the boy’s face, photoshopping “54 people” on top of the butterfly, and making the bottom caption says, “Is this an student body?” Kids who follow the account find the meme funny because Keith School is an incredibly small school with a smaller student body than most, but it always boasts that it is constantly getting more of student body and getting bigger every year; it’s funny because that’s so untrue, haha. In reality, Keith is actually losing student body members, and has never been smaller than it is now.

 

My Interpretation:

It’s obvious that the students at Keith Country Day School have little respect for the school, making fun of enrollment numbers through this meme. It seems that Keith is trying to make an attempt to hide that they are struggling, not only with enrollment numbers but also financially as an effect of it. The students see the school struggling and can easily poke fun at the weakness of the institution, especially if they know they won’t be caught doing so with a private meme page.

Digital
Humor

Keith Country Day School “I Pledge” Salt-Bae Meme

IMG_7082

The following is the background of the meme account of Keith School and a description of a meme about the “I Pledge” honor code at Keith School from a conversation with NC. Attached is the respective meme.

 

Started in 2016, the seniors of Keith Country Day School created the @keithcountrymemeschool Instagram account. The purpose of the account was to mock and tease the faculty and school rules. Every year, one senior runs the account and takes into consideration the ideas of his/her peers. The memes are a collection of spin-offs of already well-known memes and original memes. Some of the memes even have faculty members’ faces photoshopped onto the picture. The account was made private, so as not to let faculty members see the page. Below is the description of a meme from the page, described by the senior from the class of 2018 who created it.

 

NC: This one is another version of the salt bae meme, which is the guy who kind of looks like Johnny Depp sprinkling salt onto what I assume is food that’s outside the frame of the picture. I changed it up for Keith by making the caption says, “when you write ‘I Pledge’ at the top of your test.” It’s funny because on every test you take at Keith, students must write “I Pledge,” which basically means they pledge not to cheat on the test. So, the meme makes fun of it because it’s like when you add that to the top of your test, you’re being kind of extra, kind of throwing those words in like an extra topping to spice things up like you would with salt on food.

 

My Interpretation:

In meme culture, the salt-bae meme might be one of the most popular memes out there. It’s very easy to come up with captions for the picture, depending on respective circumstances. Keith School is the only high school I’ve heard of that has this honor code rule of writing “I Pledge” at the top of an exam. Although I understand the reasoning behind the honor code, I can see how high school students can so easily make fun of it, just because their friends at other high schools most likely do not have to write those words. So, as Keith is known for having a high-class education reputation, and in a way, being “extra,” it would make sense that this meme is funny to the students who follow the page. Salt-bae is all about being “extra”, adding a little extra salt/spice to his dish, while Keith is “extra” by having their students write “I Pledge,” distinguishing them from any other high school in the area.

Customs
Festival
Life cycle
Rituals, festivals, holidays

May Day: Stillman Valley High School Traditions

The following is a conversation with MA that describes her interpretation of the May Day celebration from how her high school celebrated the springtime festival. For a full history of May Day traditions in America, please see Allison Thompson’s 2009 May Day Festivals in America, 1830 to The Present (McFarland & Co.).

 

MA: So, we had the seniors eligible to be on May court and they would be elected by the student-body to be on that. Then first the sophomores walk around with flags and make an arc for the May court to walk through when they are announced and then people sing to the court and we always did a boy/girl cheer routine. Then the juniors would wrap the May pole in ribbons and the May queen would be crowned by the May queen of the previous year […]. It was a celebration of summer coming and purity. I know the actual May Day is on May 1, but ours fell on a different day every year, probably for school coordinating reasons.

 

EK: Did you were anything special for the occasion?

 

MA: Yeah, so freshman didn’t participate unless they were in the cheer routine. Sophomores wore pastel sun dresses, juniors wore big, pastel, poofy dresses, and seniors just had to wear some type of pastel formal wear, their guidelines weren’t as strict because they were seniors. I remember I wore a pastel green poofy dress, kind of like a Quinceañera dress, during my senior year.

 

EK: So, what did this celebration mean to you?

 

MA: Well I participated in it all four years; I was a cheerleader, so I did the cheer routine my freshman year. I know it was a celebration of spring and rebirth and summer coming and purity. For a lot of us in high school though it was just about dressing up and always happened before Prom, so whatever seniors were elected to be on May court were probably going to be on the Prom court too, haha. I just really liked dressing up and celebrating the event with my friends and family that would come to watch.

 

My Interpretation:

MA is the only person I know who has participated in a high school May Day celebration. I’ve known of the festival previously, however now it also has a bit of a negative connotation. I know that it is also considered International Workers’ Day, where people will take to the streets in political protest in several areas. It is interesting to me that while certain traditions of the celebration are upheld in some areas, such as in Stillman Valley High School where they have pastel colors and the May pole and the customary dancing, in other areas there is fighting, arrests, and riots. In MA’s recollection, though, she seemed to look forward to the celebration each year, really enjoying her high school’s unique tradition.

general
Humor
Signs

Bellarmine College Preparatory Seal

Context:

My informant is a 21 year old student from the University of Southern California.This conversation took place in a university dining hall one evening. The informant and I were in an open space, and the informant’s significant other was present and listening to the conversation, as well. The SO’s presence, is the most likely reason that the informant was much more dramatic and told the legend quite jokingly, as if for the purpose to get laughs out of both me and the SO. In this account, he explains the legend of the reason why his school puts ropes around his school seal at the center of his high school campus. This is a transcription of our conversation, where he is identified as A.

 

Text:

A: I attended Bellarmine College Preparatory for 4 years as part of my 12 years of Catholic education, which in retrospect, I would not do.  [laughs] So Bellarmine is an all boys school, a little bit of toxic masculinity there… One of the most prideful traditions was… our symbol was the “B” for “Bellarmine,” and so we had in the main quad, uh, imprinted on the quad was maybe a 6×6 rounded print of our logo on the quad.

What the school told everyone–and what we told ourselves–to fit into the standard was that no one could step on the “B,” so everyone walked around it. No one could step on the “B” because it was too disrespectful. Um, and so we do things like try to jump over it, you know like if you’re really risky like I did freshman year, but then one day near the middle of my freshman year, we showed up to school and Bellarmine literally put up ropes around the B. 

No one knows why the B was suddenly roped, but I guess someone must have stepped on it or maybe graffitied it or maybe defaced it? But there’s been stories, my favorite being that, our rival, St. Francis… one of their fine gentlemen defecated on the B. [laughs]

So now our tradition is enshrined, now instead of like a, uh, proverbial “hey don’t step on the B,” now it’s “hm, why does this area look like a crime scene?” It’s because it was a crime scene, probably because that man defecated on our prideful school symbol.

 

Thoughts:

The way Bellarmine treats its school seal is an oikotype of how many schools choose to treat their own school seals. Schools seals are usually incredibly sacred, and touching it (especially before you graduate) can bring you bad luck or be seen as a sign of disrespect towards your school. To maintain school pride, many schools protect this sacred symbol of their school, especially from rivaling schools, who also follow the tradition of trying to deface their rival school’s seals. USC’s rival with UCLA also reflects this type of folklore: during the week of the rivalry football game, USC duct tapes and guards Tommy Trojan 24/7 to ensure that UCLA is unsuccessful in painting Tommy Trojan blue and gold. Similarly, UCLA builds a cage around their school’s bear statue to protect it from USC’s attempts to paint it red and gold.

general
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Walter Payton High School

Context:

My informant is a 19 year old student from the University of Southern California.This conversation took place at a cafe one evening. The informant and I were in an open space, where our mutual friends sat and the table and listened to this conversation happen, as well. In this account, she explains a tradition from her high school. This is a transcription of our conversation, where she is identified as L and I am identified as K.

 

Text:

L: Ok, so, in my high school, umm, it was named “Walter Payton” after a Chicago Bears football player who was very philanthropic and like dedicated to empowering the community. Um, his number was 34, so on March 4th (which is like, 3/4 ) we had a day called “Sweetness Day” where every advisory would go out and do a service project in the community and Walter Payton died as he was finishing building our school, um, cause he wanted it to be accessible to all the youth of Chicago. And so his brother comes in his honor, er, his son I mean, would come and hype us up and get ready for the day of service and stuff, so like we stayed with the same service group and it was just so cool to like check back in with them and like a lot of advisory ended up volunteering for them externally too. It was so cute, it was such a fun day and the whole school just loves “Sweetness Day.”

K: How did you learn this tradition?

L: Um, I learned it pretty much like as… cause in Chicago you have to apply to high schools, you don’t…

K: Wait what.

L: Yeah, public high schools. You have to apply to public high schools, which is insane. So basically like you have to go to open houses and like info sessions with the high schools because, um, there’s 10 selective enrollment ones that are just basically magnets. You take an entrance exam to get in and whatever, but like at the open houses and stuff, everyone couldn’t stop talking like how much “Sweetness Day” meant to them and how it’s such a big part of like our school. Being as unspirited as we are, like no one came to sports games, but like everyone got hyped for the “Sweetness Day” pep rally, so it was really cool.

K: Why do you love “Sweetness Day”?

L: I love it because it’s how I got close to a lot of people I probably wouldn’t have gotten close to, so since it’s with your advisory, like I had… like what our school prides itself in being incredibly diverse, so I had a lot of students in my advisory who had like very different backgrounds than me or like very different day-to-day lives. Like some of them took the redline for an hour and a half to school everyday, whereas I walked like for 20 minutes a day. So like, I loved that I was able to do something really empowering and cool while also like doing it with a network of like really driven people, too.

 

Thoughts:

I thought that this tradition was very endearing, and also epitomized one of the main purposes of folklore, which is to strengthen the culture of a group. Though this type of folklore, where a school gathers and dedicates a day to do philanthropy as a community, is very special to Walter Payton High School, I also know that it is a common folklore among many schools across the nation (each one with their own oikotype). Personally, my school also engaged in a day dedicated to volunteering, but we called it “Lodge Day.” This is because our school mascot was the beaver (and so we called ourselves “Bryant Beavers”), and for this one day a year we would come together as a “lodge” and volunteer to improve our schools. This meant doing activities such as reorganizing the library, planting new plants in the garden, scraping gum off of the sidewalks, spreading and evening bark chips and the playground, and so on and so forth. Overall, this is a common type of folklore that each school can adjust to fit their own school culture, as folklore should.

Customs
Initiations
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Convocation

Main Piece (Direct Transcription):

A tradition at my school for all sixth graders is called convocation.  I remember my first day of sixth grade, they paired me up with a senior the first day of school and we walked up the long brick pathway at our school up to the gym.  It’s a way of initiating the entering sixth graders into the school, and kind of a way of saying farewell to the seniors since it will be their last year.   After we went to the gym, we took our seats to listen to a convocation speech.

 

Context:  The informant K, my brother, is a high school student living in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  He attends the same middle/high school that I attended, and we were talking about all the interesting and unique traditions that our school has while I was home for spring break.  I was reminiscing about different events that I was able to take part in while I was a student at the school, while listening to my brother’s perspective and take on these different traditions.  We both agreed that we feel like our school is very unique, and that we don’t believe a lot of schools have the traditions that ours does.  Although folklore is often considered to be something that larger groups of people can relate to, I believe that folklore and tradition surrounding schools and small local areas are sometimes some of the most interesting to hear about.  It gives insight into how the individuals in these areas live and gives valuable insight into what their values might be.  Because of this, I asked my brother to tell me more about his experience with these traditions to tell in my folklore collection.

 

 

My Thoughts:

I have an interesting perspective on this tradition because I was both the sixth grader and the senior.  Although it is one event that the whole school takes part of, there are several different perspectives individuals can have on the event.  Since my brother is only a junior in high school right now, he has not yet gotten to walk a 6th grader up the path and has only been the 6th grader walked by a senior.  I was both the 6th grader, feeling nervous and excited on the first day of school, and the senior, feeling sentimental on the last first day at the school.  I was also able to be the spectator from grade 7 to 11, and still felt excited watching the seniors and new sixth graders walk into the gym after their walk up the path.  This traditional ceremony at the school is something that a lot of people look forward to every year, and I believe it serves as an excellent first entrance to the school for 6th graders.  The school has so many unique and powerful traditions and ceremonies that happen year after year, and the new students are able to get a small taste of what is in store for them throughout their time at this school.

Adulthood
general
Initiations
Life cycle
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Berkeley Senior Steps

Context: The informant was reminiscing on traditions at her high school, Berkeley High in Berkeley, California. The senior steps were a major part of the folklore at her high school.

Piece: So in high school, there were these like these stairs, these steps with like a bench on them and we called them the senior steps. So like only the seniors were allowed to stand on them and if there was like a freshman or sophomore standing on the senior steps, people would like stare them down slash be like what are you doing on the senior steps? It’s inside of the school, and we actually had a meme page that has like 5,000 followers, ha weird flex, and like basically some sophomore actually a few weeks ago peed on the senior steps to like disrespect the seniors or something. And it was the biggest ordeal because like they’re just fucking steps and its like where the cool seniors eat lunch or meet up. Everybody knows the senior steps. And we had like rally day which is like once a year we dress up and everyone was drunk and high at school it was crazy and everyone was like yelling on the steps “Seniors, Seniors!”

I guess it’s just like a pride thing, and like I definitely like after three years of not being allowed you finally get to elevate yourself onto these brick steps. I didn’t really care but like a lot of people cared and like mind you these are gross steps like ugly and dingy. And like there was like tagged names or gossip written on the steps too. Ha it was so wack

Background: The informant, a 20 year old USC student, went to Berkeley High School, and experienced the tradition/rite of passage of the senior steps.

Analysis: This piece is a form of a rite of passage and ritual that was created surrounding these steps in her high school. The steps have become an honor that is bestowed upon seniors, as a form of status and privilege that they are entering the adult world. The steps create a hierarchy, showing that the school and consequently American society, pushes for the future and growth and moving up. In order to get to the privileges of the steps, you must work your way and finally get your status– which hows how the seniors will be leaving and moving into the future. The steps have been ritualized further by hosting the rally and the gossip markings, indicating its connection to school culture and spirit. The mention of more popular students being the regular utilizers of the steps indicates further this level of hierarchy ingrained in the culture of high school, and ultimately our society as Americans. By gaining the status, it serves as a stepping stone or rite of passage into the adult world.

Customs
general

Exchanging Senior Portraits – A High School Custom

Item:

Q: Did you take prom pictures?

T: Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Oh! Exchanging pictures, that’s something people do, like prom pictures and senior pictures.

Q: Why do people exchange senior pictures?

T: Oh bro Ion’ know. I actually don’t know. Like… like… cause yenno people, like, write little notes on the back of it?

Q: Mhmm.

T: And it’s just, memories I guess.

Q: So did you learn about exchanging them when you started high school or what?

T: I didn’t even know!

Q: You didn’t know until you were a senior that people exchanged senior portraits?

T: I did but, like, I didn’t know, like, my freshman year.

Q: Oh, so, when did you figure out then?

T: Like…

Q: When I was a senior?

T: Ion’ know, probably. Most likely. I didn’t really talk to people.

 

Context:

This piece was collected from a high school student, denoted by ‘T’.  I inquired about any high school lore she knew about, and when she couldn’t think of any, we changed topics.  Later on in the conversation, she was prompted by my question about prom pictures to mention this custom.  Though she did not have much insight into the custom which she describes, I will provide further information on it in the following section.  The informant has attended the same school that I graduated from in Hawaii for all of high school and will be graduating this May.  As seen in the conversation above, she most likely learned the custom of exchanging senior portraits from when I approached graduation at the end of senior year and began preparing portraits to give to my teachers and friends.  The informant also mentions how she is especially aware of this custom now that it is her turn to partake in it; her peers have already begun taking casual pictures to use and she spoke to me about how she wants one of her friends to take her portraits as well.  The informant seems to primarily take this custom as just another one of those things high school seniors do before graduation, and as she said in the exchange, something you do “for the memories”.

 

Additional Personal Notes:

I can elaborate more on this custom, having participated in it myself when I graduated high school.  It should be noted that prom photos are exchanged as well between high school students, which may have reminded the informant about the exchange of senior portraits.  Photos from formal dances, including proms and winter formals, are generally exchanged amongst all grade levels; senior portraits, on the other hand, are exclusive to the graduating class.  They are commonly exchanged among graduating seniors and their closest friends (which may be other seniors or underclassmen), as well as their teachers and advisors, in the weeks leading up to graduation.  Oftentimes, the photo-givers would handwrite notes on the frames of portraits before giving them out, typically something along the lines of a thank you message or a good luck message.  I learned this custom from having upperclassmen friends who graduated before me; some of them gave me their portraits as well.  This custom is most commonly passed on through connections with graduating seniors, like if you received one as an underclassman for example.  In addition, some teachers would also display their collection of portraits from students in their classrooms, so students would be able to learn about this custom through that as well.

 

Analysis:

Having also participated in this custom when I graduated high school, my analysis of its significance has a personal bias because of the role it played for me during this time.  Since it is temporally exclusive to the weeks leading up to graduation and exclusive to members of the graduating class, I believe the custom of exchanging senior portraits is about reinforcing social relationships in a time of changing identity.  Although a student’s plans after high school may be solidified by this time, and she may spend her last few weeks enjoying time with her peers, there still remains a level of anxiety – particularly pertaining to her social relationships she has built throughout high school as a familiar environment is left behind for the uncertainty of life after graduation.   As such, exchanging senior portraits is a material way of reinforcing certain social relationships before they are tested, especially because they are selectively exchanged among friends.  Giving a friend your senior portrait is essentially communicating “I remember you” and “I want you to remember me”.  Furthermore, in the age of digital media, a tangible portrait literally holds more weight than merely texting each other photos.  In the case of exchanging with teacher or advisors, the senior portraits serve a similar purpose of reinforcing these social relationships because you would give them to your favorite and/or most influential teachers as a thank you and final goodbye.  As such, giving out senior portraits is, in fact, about the memories of the social relationships you built during high school and reinforcing them before you make the transition into adulthood.

Folk speech
Proverbs

Guang Hua has 30 floors; a jump solves a thousand troubles.

Context
The informant is a freshman at Fudan University. We were talking about our lives as college students when she brought up this item.

Piece
光华三十楼,一跃解千愁
Roman form: Guang Hua san shi lou, yi yue jie qian chou.
Transliteration: Guang Hua thirty floors, a jump solves a thousand troubles.
Full translation: All trouble will be solved if you jump from the top of the 30-story-tall Guanghua Building.

Analysis
According to my informant, Guanghua Building is 2 strangely tall buildings at Fudan University. They are 30-story tall, while most other buildings are only 4-5 story tall. Facilities in the buildings are mainly offices.
Besides, this is a parody of a Chinese line from an old book called Zeng Guang Wen Xian

三杯通大道,一醉解千愁
Roman form: San bei tong da dao, yi zui jie qian chou.
Transliteraition: 3 cups to big road, a drunk solves a thousand trouble.
Full translation: A few shots of alcohol delight people, while being drunk solves all the trouble.

The original line explained how alcohol kills all the bad mood. In the parodic version, suicide is likened to alcohol, because once you are dead, you wouldn’t need to worry about anything else. As a parody, this item sounds like it should be dealt with seriously, which adds to its funniness. For the students, they are aware of and even empathetic with college students who commit suicide, especially as a result of academic anxiety. By expressing this possible outcome in a funny way, the students find a solution to solve a cognitive disagreement: a) to kill off anxiety in an extreme way; b) to never think about extreme conducts such as committing suicide.

[geolocation]