This legend is from K’s friend of a friend. K was born in Canada but moved to southern California when they were 10 where K went to school. K is currently a sophomore studying Screenwriting at SCA.
K’s high school circulated a story about a bunker under the auditorium that had built as a bomb shelter that had been built during the Second World War. “Which, in retrospect doesn’t really make sense because our high school was built after that.” Basically, one of K’s friends wanted to confirm if it was true. There was an upper-field area that he searched in, the auditorium area that he searched underneath, and eventually he gave up trying to find it. But, K’s AP Environmental Science teacher was like “Hey, don’t worry, it definitely exists.” So, K’s friend went back and tried to find it. K believes it might have originated from the orchestra pit, and a student seeing something freaky down there. Regardless, the story has become something the seniors tend to pass on to the freshman.
This narrative is a legend; it is set in a time in history that’s remained to the present and the basis of the story is whether or not it is real or fake. Legends often explore if the improbable or impossible is, in fact, possible and in doing so make their audience question whether or not the impossible truly is possible in the real world. The readers can examine their perception of what the real world may be. In the case of the school, the students will always have something to be curious and engaged about. Most children’s lore, including teenagers, are anti-hegemonic for the larger education system. For high school, this evolves into a more intentional and rebellious perception of the outside world. To have a story that introduces inherent falsehood in the school, I believe these teenagers will have something to place their growing pains and rebellious energy in. The backstory of the bomb shelter being built during World War II, or even the Cold War, easily becomes both a flashback into the power of the past and also the absurdity of it; the very thought of a nuclear bomb now seems ridiculous and unlikely. When students place their interest or belief into this possibly true blast from the past, they will place themselves on a high moral pedestal from which to judge history. This encourages childhood anti-hegemony and confidence in themselves, that we have evolved past a time where we needed bomb shelters.
Informant KS is a 19 year-old USC freshman from San Jose, California.
It is a custom for students of a certain private, Catholic high school to avoid stepping on the logo of the school — a circular emblem with a “B” in the center which is printed on the ground — or risk being beat up by seniors.
KS attended a private, Catholic high school which was founded over 150 years ago.
KS: “I actually found out about this tradition when I was very young, maybe ten years old. I attended summer camps at the school, and ‘Don’t step on the ‘B” is one of the first things you learn about if you ever come to campus. The basic idea behind it is there’s a logo in the center of campus that has a ‘B.’ It’s a circular logo. And the rumor was that if you stepped on the ‘B’ and there were seniors nearby, they had full license to beat you up, since you disrespected the logo of the school. I’m not exactly sure if people do beat other people up over stepping on the ‘B’ given that I’ve never actually seen it happen. I’ve never seen a student step on the ‘B’ before, I’ve only seen an unsuspecting parent do it before, and nobody really had a reaction in that circumstance. I would say this custom is part of one of the many traditions that we have at the school that gives it a bit of character. I guess it ties into a greater respect for the logo and the institution.”
As an institution dating back over 150 years, the private high school which KS attended has accumulated its own folklore in the form of customs such as avoiding the “B.” Since its founding, the folklore developed among students and the growing alumni network served to develop a common culture and camaraderie surrounding those with the experience of attending the high school, which resulted in KS learning about the custom from a young age. While serving as one shared custom that builds camaraderie, the act of avoiding the “B” also further develops a sense of respect and reverence for an old institution. Older definitions of folklore — such as those utilized by German folklorists Johann Gottfried von Herder and the Brothers Grimm — tend to argue that folklore is a practice shared by the common folk and independent of the elite class, yet this custom operates on both levels — as a shared practice among students, and as a means of maintaining the legitimacy of an old institution.