USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘high school’
Initiations
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Rise, Run, and Dip

LC: “So Rise Run and Dip was a tradition at Hotchkiss. At orientation your first year, one of the first mornings, everybody had to get up at about 6 in the morning and go for a run, and the run would be, I don’t know, 2 or 3 miles, and it would end by running down the hill, sort of from the top of campus to the bottom where there was this big lake, Lake Wononskopomuc. And you would run run run down the hill and just keep going into the lake and go for a swim. And this was in the foothills of the Berkshires, so it was generally very crisp. And then people also did this for various sports teams, like when you go for preseason practice. It, you know, it was one of those rites of passage, it was definitely difficult, and cold, and particularly unpleasant on the way back up the hill. But it was also kind of beautiful, and peaceful, and very memorable. It was meant to be a bonding exercise, something that everybody did, and that everybody at Hotchkiss had done at least once, in their time there.”

Background: Hotchkiss is a boarding school in Connecticut which LC went to for high school. This tradition has been going on since long before she went there, and continues to this day. She remembers it as a significant rite of passage that was both strenuous and beautiful.

Context: This tradition took place during freshman orientation, as well as at various points of the year for members of different sports teams.

Interpretation:

Rise, Run, and Dip is a fairly clear-cut rite of passage and initiation ritual. Through a shared ordeal, suffering in the brisk mountain air, freshmen and teammates bond with each other. The ritual is seen as important to becoming a real member of the Hotchkiss community, and becomes a shared memory of those who went through it. Additionally, LC mentioned that at the most recent high school reunion she went to, one of the scheduled events was Rise, Run and Dip. When calling back to high school days, the community recreates this event which marked the beginning of their high school experience.

Customs
Folk speech
Initiations
Proverbs
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Band Chain Link Necklace

Informant:

S, a 22-year-old Caucasian female who was born and raised in Colorado. She went to a catholic school and played saxophone in the band. Her family practiced Catholicism regularly. She is now a senior in Computer Science at the University of Southern California.

Background info:

S spent her summers at band camp, where her and the others in band would spend the entire time getting closer to each other as friends. Her director would always make them do group bonding exercises so that the kids would interact with others they wouldn’t normally. S was in band for all four years of high-school.

Context:

Late at night, a lot of weird conversations happen. Because S is on a project with me, we were working together at around 2:00am when we started discussing traditions that stuck with us from our childhood or teenage years. The following is a one of the group bonding exercises her band director had the team do.

Main piece:

“One of the biggest lessons we had to learn in band was that we are only a single link in a chain. If one link breaks, the whole chain breaks… The director would always compare this to a violin concert. If one violinist is off key, the whole piece is off key… We had to learn to think as a single unit, walk as a single unit, and play as a single unit. Our director would give out a single chain link on a piece of string to each member of the band at the beginning of camp We had to wear it all day every day to remind us that we are only as strong as our weakest link. If any of the band members lost their chain link, our director would tell us that we would have bad luck that season… Of the four years, only one time someone lost it, and we did terribly that year.”

Thoughts:

I like this tradition because it does embody the English phrase “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”. Having to wear a physical link around them is a cool way to remind people to better themselves for the good of the team. Other traditions also involve wearing a physical reminder of something important. In Christianity, for example, people often wear a cross or crucifix, or even have a statue of Jesus on the cross in their home. Losing an item of importance is also a common way to get bad luck in a lot of superstitions. It was interesting to hear that the one time someone did lose their chain link, the team did poorly. The thought of something going wrong can lead to it actually going wrong if one gets into that mindset. My football coach would always tell us that if we believed the other team was better than us, then we would already be defeated because we allowed ourselves to get into that mindset.

Childhood
Folk Beliefs
Signs
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Softball Apparel Signs and Sexuality

Informant: “In high school playing softball there was this secret code to show if you were lesbian. I know how ridiculous that is now, but if you wore ribbons in your hair, it meant you weren’t. Every girl on the team would put ribbons in their hair because they didn’t want people thinking they were lesbian.”

Context: This collection of folklore was done while the informant was home from Boston. We spoke with the intent to collect this piece of folklore when prompted with what are the sorts of folklore found in softball. The informant played softball for 4 years in high school, but does not play in college currently.

Informant Analysis Transcript:

Collector: “Where did you first learn this, or from who?”

Informant: “I think I first heard about the whole ‘lesbians play softball’ in middle school. My mom would always tell me that. The whole ribbons thing I only heard in high school. I think people on the softball team told me and I just assumed that I might as well join in.”

Collector: “Why do you think this folklore is used in high school softball, or like, your analysis of it?

Informant: “Uhm, I don’t know. I guess in high school you care a lot about what other people think of you, especially if you are female. The idea of someone thinking you are lesbian when you are not if you play softball was just a fear that many girls had. The whole ribbon thing kind of gives a little piece of mind, like, ‘ok! I’m ready to play now, put me in coach’ *laughs*

Collector Analysis: I believe that there is a fear in high school in girls of being perceived wrongly by their classmates. The use of ribbons is integral to the analysis of this folk sign. Ribbons seem closely tied with femininity in American culture, where as most people assume lesbian culture to be more masculine. This is a generalization of course, but the stereotype that cisgendered girls would are more likely to wear ribbons in their hair as apposed to their gay counterparts allows for people to assume the sexual orientation of another without having to ask. Especially at a time in life where many people are still figuring out their sexual identity, the whole topic of gender is painted with strict contrast.

Childhood
Game
Kinesthetic
Musical

No Music Party Chant

Main Piece:

 Informant: It’s simple. It’s just like, if the music cuts out at a party, or if like, the speaker blows and there’s a long stretch of silence someone will stand up and start a “No Music” chant. It’s like, one person will clap three times and then the rest of the party will reply “No Music!” in rythm back. God. And that’ll keep going until someone has the music back on again.

Background:  The informant is a senior here at USC. He is my next door neighbor and we conducted this interview in person at his apartment. He is from Manhattan Beach and has lived there for his entire life. He is a social individual and has attended many parties throughout high school and college. He attended a large high school in Manhattan Beach.

Context: The informant learned of this chant/song when he experienced it first hand. Typically, this kind of chant is typical amongst high school “party” culture. The informant clearly didn’t have high praise for this piece of American high school party folklore. He had no idea when this chant came about, but was certain it had been along for much longer than he had been around.

Analysis: I specifically asked the informant whether or not he had experienced this chant in his own life. I was interested because in own hometown, whenever a situation like this would occur at a social gathering we would break out in a similar style chant. However, In my experience, the chant involved much more rhythm and was significantly more intricate. Another contrast is that I look back on this chant fondly, in comparison to the informant. This could potentially be because my school was much smaller in size and emphasized an arts-based education. This chant is folklore because it contains multiplicity and variation (Dundes) and is an example of artistic communication performed in small groups (Ben-Amos). While the informant’s chant is more simplistic, that could be due to the large nature of his high school. On the other hand, the chant I experienced could be a function of my high school emphasizing artistic performance, making my community more willing to indulge the dramatic nature of the chant.

Humor
Initiations
Legends
Narrative

Pool at the Top of the School

Abstract:

This piece is sort of a legend or belief that there could be a pool at the top of Albemarle High School. It is a prank or joke that the upperclassmen pull on incoming freshman.

Main Piece:

“L: For our high school, they tell the incoming freshman that there is a pool on the roof. You guys didn’t have that?

C: No, I’ve never heard of that.

L: So what they tell you is that “oh you can’t get onto the roof, but there is a secret, exclusive pool that if you make friends with the janitors or something, you’ll get to go up and see the pool roof.” So my brother, he’s at SCA here, but he made the video that they show to eighth graders at the end of the year when they come into the school as incoming freshman and, um, he was playing around with Final Cut and they went up to the roof and he figured out how to CGI a pool on the roof to trick all the eighth graders. And at lunch they were all like “omg there is really a pool on the roof.”

Context:

The informant is a 19 year old girl who has lived in Charlottesville, VA for her entire life before moving to California for college. She attended Albemarle High School for all four years and first learned of this “pool on the roof” when she was an incoming freshman.

Analysis:

These kinds of pranks on “new” students or freshmen remind me of initiations that happen at clubs or in Greek Life. I think it is an event that students have to go through and the original belief is what bonds them together as the “new” student class. Going through that shared belief and realization that it is a joke helps bring the students into the community that has also gone through it.

Customs
Game
Humor
Material
Musical

Gag Gifts Before Theater Productions

Abstract:

This piece is about traditions before the first production and the last production at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, California. It mainly focuses on gag gifts, but touches on the last show’s medley tradition as well.

Main Piece:

“B: Another thing we would do in theater, for the first performance we would do everyone would exchange gag gifts and you didn’t know who it was. The first couple of years we would try to do it with everyone, but it got really confusing because it was just so many people. And no one in the pit knew who was in the cast or tech because we just didn’t spend as much time with them and so then we just did it in the pit that was nicer because we knew everybody. And it’s always stuff like… like I got a bag of rice one year. And then the last year I actually got my boyfriend, and he hates snakes so I got him a ton of fake snakes and put them on his drum set. And then he hates tomatoes and beans so I bought like five cans of tomatoes and beans. And then on the last performance, you’re suppose to reveal yourself and give like a real gift.

C: You give a gift every performance?

B: No just the first one and the last one. Because we had like seven performances. And for the last performance, like the last piece, we would meld it and make a bunch of cuts in the music and make it one big piece. After everyone gets their claps, like at the end of the show, then everyone from the cast will come down and surround the pit. And then we will all be playing. And we make the cuts so it basically goes through every big song in the performance. And it’s cool because the cast is right there and singing into the pit.”

Context:

The informant is a 19 year old girl who attended Mira Costa High School for all four years and was extensively involved in the theater productions at her school as a musician in the orchestra. She has played music since she was young. She first learned of this tradition freshman year after her first performance with the theater club.

Analysis:

This reminds me of the game White Elephant that is often played at Christmas time, but mixed with Secret Santa. In White Elephant, you are suppose to get bad gifts so that when people open up the gifts they want to steal to get better gifts. However, the element of Secret Santa comes into play with the idea that there is only one person who has you to give gifts to. In both Secret Santa and White Elephant, and this theater tradition, I think the main purpose of the gift is to show a sense of care – even with the humor involved. When the informant talked about getting her boyfriend, it seemed that the gag gifts were funnier to both involved because they knew a lot about each other. These types of games can be played with close friends or family or in larger groups as well.

Adulthood
Customs
Initiations
Life cycle
Material

Wall Quotes at HB Woodlawn

Abstract:

This piece is about painted wall quotes from graduating seniors at a high school in the Washington DC Metropolitan Area.

Main Piece: (L is the informant and I is the interviewer)

“L: At my school when you become a senior and you’re graduating, you get to write a quote on the wall. In your group.

I: In your group?

L: In your, like, age group. Like the 2005’s. Or the graduates of the 2005’s.

I: What school do you go to?

L: HB Woodlawn in Arlington, VA.

I: Why do you guys get to do this?

L: Um, to have like your message to the school. So people can look at it. It’s not necessary to look at, but it’s not hidden away in a yearbook.”

Context:

The informant is a 13 year old girl who attends a middle/high school in Arlington Virginia called HB Woodlawn. She started attending the school in 6th grade and plans to graduate from the school as well. The school is small in comparison to the other local public high schools and can only be attended through a lottery system. The school is known as the “Hippie” School because of it’s nonchalant rules and artistic programs that other schools in the area do not have. This senior tradition at HB Woodlawn allows students to leave a quote or message painted on the walls of the school for future students to read, instead of having a yearbook quote.

Analysis:

Leaving your mark at this school reminds me of graffiti and leaving messages in that way as well. Since the school is artistic and focuses heavily on creative ideals, it makes sense to me that they would have this unconventional way of leaving senior quotes. In a way, this version of senior quotes allows for more students to view the messages over the years. For example, if you are a freshman looking at a yearbook, you will only see the quotes of the seniors from that particular year. You would miss out on the quotes from seniors in the years before you entered the school. However, in this version of senior quotes, you will see the quotes on the walls for years and years.

 

 

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Narrative

Blue Boy

Context

The informant and I both attended the same high school. I had the opportunity to visit him in San Francisco, and we talked a bit about our time in school. We remembered a couple of stories that were passed around about the dormitories and the school chapel.

 

Interviewer: I remember that there were rumors of a ghost that haunted Merritt House’s basement and bathrooms, but I think the most popular rumor was that of the chapel ghost.

 

Informant: Ah yeah yeah… you mean the blue boy right?

 

Interviewer: I think that’s what he was called. Do you remember how it went?

 

Informant: Somewhat, it’s been a couple of years since I graduated… But if I remember correctly it had something to do with the chapel’s underground passage. It’s haunted by a ghost of a blue boy, and it’ll appear if you go there during Winter by yourself. I think.

 

Interviewer: People said that sometimes the blue boy would show up in the lower levels of the school buildings as well. Never ran into him though.

 

Informant: Neither did I. None of my friends did either, I’m pretty sure it was just a stupid rumor.

 

Interviewer: Do you remember how it came to haunt the chapel? That’ll probably be good for the report.

 

Informant: Uhh… I think he’s called the blue boy because he was stuck outside during a snowstorm and froze to death. And, supposedly, they found his body in the chapel. And after that they started seeing his ghost in the chapel crypts.

 

Digital
Game
Humor

The Game

“In high school, my friends and I were always playing The Game and messing with each other. Every time you think of The Game, you lose. So the only people always winning the game are the people who have never heard of it. I think that we liked the irony and parodoxical nature of The Game. Also, school was really boring and The Game never stops. It’s endless entertainment. Except it’s also so infuriating. Most of the time when you’re actively playing The Game, you’re just trying to remind your friends that it exists to make them lose. It’s a game you play for other people as much as yourself.”

Context: The informant went to high school in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and graduated in 2010. He learned this game online.

Interpretation: This game illustrates the idea that “ignorance is bliss.” The most successful players are those who do not know they are playing. It is also deeply ingrained in Internet culture, and is an excellent representation of the principle that people on the Internet do things “for the Lulz” alone rather than for some greater purpose. The goal of this game is to annoy one’s friends as much as it is to keep oneself from losing. Furthermore, it is an example of how games that start or spread mainly online can make their way into everyday life in-person.

 

Customs
Game
Humor
Musical

Long Island High School Band Customs

A – “There are a couple things we always did, every day we had class, once we got to class back in high school.  There’s this thing at Schreiber [our High School] where, every musician with their instrument ready would blow out some really poor-sounding tone, and then there would be a response from the other side of the room.  It didn’t really matter who responded, so sometimes there was more than one, but, you know, as long as there was a response.  And yeah, just a really poor tone coming from any instrument.  So this would happen every class, so twice a week, before our teacher/conductor got there, we were all getting ready.  This is kinda just our way of maintaining our individuality from the other students at school, I think we were all rather proud of being in the band.”

How were you Introduced to this tradition?

A – “So the first time I got into the band my sophomore year, I noticed people doing it, but no one actually said anything about it.  It took me a couple weeks before I realized that it was, like, an actual thing that we always did.  Taking part in that was kinda like a rite of passage, once you did it, you were a real member of the band.”

A – “I definitely won’t forget that we did that, I think just because it brings me back to my time in the band, where I had a lot of fun and spent time with people I liked.”

 

I was actually in the band with A, and I got there a year before he did.  So it was fun for me, who had gone through the same sort of vetting process with this one tone call and response, to watch him as he learned of it’s existence, and soon became proficient in it.  I definitely agree with his idea that this was a sort of rite-of-passage situation; I’d also add that it was almost a weird way of hazing new members, getting them to think that we sound awful, getting them to wonder why they’re even there if that’s the case.  Then we start playing.

[geolocation]