Tag Archives: middle school

“Made You Say Pink”

My informant (18), from Maryland, describes a riddle that she and her friends performed in middle school: “It’s not really a joke, but it’s more like a challenge, like a “are you dumb” challenge. So it’s like I bet I can make you say the color pink ‘okay’ okay so then you’re like ‘what’s the color of the sky?’ ‘Blue’ ‘What’s the color of this chair?’ ‘Brown’ ‘What’s the color of my hair?’ ‘Black’ ‘What’s the color of the grass?’ ‘green’ ‘Ha, I told you I could make you say green’ ‘no you didn’t, you told me you would make me say pink’ and that’s how you make them say pink”

“And so it’s like this little thing that my swim friends and I, back in the past, like middle school? We would just always perform this on each other to like try and get the other person and just to make them seem, you know, like it’s more of like one of those ‘stupid tests’”

The informant began by saying this was a joke, and then changed to calling it a challenge, and finally called it a “test”. I think this piece is actually a kind of riddle, because it tests the wits of the person it is performed on, but instead of wordplay, there is a “trick” meant to catch the subject. Because this is used within the informants team, it might imply that performing this trick affords the performer a kind of social capital in the group when they are successful, suggesting that intelligence is valued in the group.

7th Grade Handshake

Context: Informant is a student in Colorado. The informant along with their peers are in 7th grade. The handshake is often used as a greeting, but also a sort of game to play in between passing periods and during recess. The school includes Kindergarten-8th graders.

Handshake: Two videos of the handshake has been attached to this post. Both videos show the handshake from a first person perspective, performing the handshake with a friend. Although the friend changes between the two videos, the handshake remains the same.

Background Information: The informant says they learned the handshake from their peer in 7th grade. The peer says they learned the handshake from their sibling in 8th grade. The informant states that the 7th graders found out that the 8th graders had been doing this handshake, and have henceforth learned and performed it for themselves. The informant has also stated that knowing the handshake, and being able to successfully perform the handshake, makes the individual ‘cool’ in the eyes of their 7th-grade peers.

Thoughts: It’s always interesting to see how children perform folklore. I think it is normal for kids to try to emulate the kids older than them, as well. In an effort to be more ‘grown-up’, they are trying to emulate the older kids. Furthermore, by acting like an 8th grader, a kid is therefore ‘cool’. 7th grade is an interesting transitional period. They are about to be 8th-graders, which will make them the oldest grade at their school. At the same time, the rest of the school being younger means that they are still at a ‘children’s’ school. After 8th grade, they will be freshmen in high school, where the roles will be reversed. It is a crucial moment for these kids to begin their transition into adulthood. They recognize this, but are unable to truly become adults. Therefore, they have tried to define themselves as ‘mature’ through the only means they know how- childish ones. By playing into the game of the 8th grader’s handshake, they are defining themselves as adults in truly childish ways.

I Like your Cut-G

Informant: The informant is my sibling, a Mexican American boy who is 14 years old and currently an 8th grader at a charter school in Los Angeles California. 

Context: The following transcript is a conversation between him and me and his explanation of why he got hit on his head that day at school. I will be referring to him as J in the following transcript of our conversation. 


Me: Can you explain what exactly was done to you today?

J: Today I got hit on the back of my head by one of my friends. He said he did it because I got a new haircut and he liked it. This is usually done to someone who gets a new haircut at school. What happens is that when someone has a new haircut they get hit in the back of the head. The person who hits the person with the new haircut, yells: “I like your Cut-G! I think it’s sort of like meaning that they like your new haircut, but instead of coming upfront and telling each other, we hit each other. Most of this is done with only the guys because the girls don’t hit each other, nor do they come up to us guys to hit us. There are also even videos on Youtube, and I think it even became a trend on TikTok reactions or something. Like even there are sounds for this.

Analysis: I really didn’t find this meme to be all that interesting, but upon analyzing it a bit more, I noticed that this meme stems from stereotyping of boys/men. Men/boys are always taught to never really reveal much of their feeling or talk too much because “that not what men do.” This meme demonstrates how instead of kids and male adults telling each other that they like their haircut, there is this “touch love idea” or more of bro code that is being made when they out of a sudden hit their heads. There is this idea that because it is tough that it is cool.

Maypole Dance at Waldorf School

This friend told me this story late at night in the kitchen on May 1, 2021. We were surrounded by four other friends who moved in and out of the room, and he spoke about his experience attending annual Maypole celebrations at a New York (Ghent) Waldorf School.


“I went to a very alternative school called a Waldorf School… and they have a lot of different celebrations and practices and things, and one that is very timely is their May Day celebration… one of the main components of May Day is a maypole. I’m not sure which kids are assigned different parts but each has a ribbon and they dance around the pole creating a pattern, this interesting woven pattern on the pole. The ribbons all weave to form a lattice.”

The speaker said that he thought the celebration might be a way to welcome summer, and that different grades performed different tasks in the May Day celebration. The school included grades Kindergarten through twelfth grade, and students in the third grade often performed the Maypole dance. Students in the sixth and seventh grades played instruments (flute, cello, violin, clarinet, viola) in the orchestra.

I asked the speaker to explain, in his own words, what it meant to attend a Waldorf school. “Waldorf school is a pedagogical movement that began in Germany as an education system started by these same people wo run the Waldorf Hotels or Waldorf cigarette companies, and they started this school for the kids of the factory workers,” the speaker said. “And the goal is like to offer holistic creativity-focused education. So there’s a lot of visual arts and performing arts and a lot of things that wouldn’t really fall under the generally accepted scope of academics.”

The speaker said that grounds crew set up the 20- or 30-foot Maypole in late April and that the structure stayed up for a few weeks after May. He said that every student had to take part in this celebration. Younger students would get excited about the celebration. He said that older students did not want to stand in the hot sun playing a violin wearing a dress shirt.

The speaker said that he does not do anything special for May Day, and that he did not appreciate this celebration until after he left the Waldorf school. “That school never really communicated why we were doing what we were doing,” he said, noting that he appreciates this experience in retrospect


I did not know that this friend attended a Waldorf school, and I was able to tell him later that the Maypole dance is a fertility dance. It seems odd that third graders would take part in this dance, but they are also young and full of life. The Maypole represents a phallus. I asked questions about how the students received this tradition, and it struck me odd that a school designed to promote the arts would not explain the history or meaning of this celebration.

It is also relevant that this speaker told this tale on May 1. He later explained that he remembered this tradition because he had received a school email describing online May Day celebrations. This shows that some newsletters can be very important for the communities in which they share information. He continues to be loosely part of this Waldorf school community long after he graduated and moved away from this location.

The Ensworth Ghost

Main Piece:

Informant: Ok, so like this woman’s children’s birthday, she had twin girls. A day before their birthday, she had gone missing. And there was no word from her, no anything. And this was right around the time my school was building our theatre. They were just putting the foundation down and everything. And a few weeks later they had traces that led them believing her body remains were in the foundation of our theater hall. And they later convicted her husband of murdering her and burying her remains in the foundation of the school. And so they say that her spirit still walks the halls. And so, sometimes, when teachers are there all alone, or on Saturdays, or even janitors, they’ll hear the elevator rise and open, even when nobody is in. And they’ll hear someone will go from their office to the elevator, and they’ll have to rise the elevator again, even though it was already risen before. And so, it’s little things like that, like doors slamming.

And so one time in my science class, the door was open and all of a sudden the door slammed shut. And this kid goes, “Oh that’s our friendly ghost.” But he didn’t know there actually was a ghost there.” And the teacher was like, “how do you know about her?” Kinda like joking around. And he was like, “Oh, yea. Me and Janet are best friends.” And then my teacher looked at him and said, “how do you know her name?” And he was like, “what do you mean?” Because at first he was kidding around and made up the name Janet. And it turns out, that was the ghost’s name.

Interviewers has to come in : No way.

Informant: And so, without even knowing there was an actual ghost there, he had named her her exact name. And the rest of the science class was weirded out by that. But that’s when my teacher began to tell us about all the different little things that would happen, like doors opening and shutting, elevators going up and down, or wood creaking on the stairs when nobody is there, or lights shutting on and off. And so that is the story of our friendly ghost.


The informant is a fourteen-year-old Native American girl from the Choctaw, Blackfoot, and Lakota Nations. She was born and raised in Tennessee and frequently travels out west to visit family and friends. She is in eighth grade.


During the Covid-19 Pandemic I flew back home to Tennessee to stay with my family. The informant is my younger sister. We were in the garage when I asked if she knew any interesting stories or legends. She told me about a ghost that is said to haunt her middle school.


Not only did the ghost story arise during building construction, it is an urban legend that haunts a middle school, a transitional time for students. New teachers. New peers. New School. Legends have the ability to provide meaning in a chaotic social environment. The role of spirits play a large part in our culture, challenging our perceptions of linear time and dimension. Spirits have also been seen as a way of changing mentalities and conflicts that appear between theology and popular thought. They are a reflection of our own social insecurities and change that remains incomprehensible. Ultimately, legends and supernatural phenomena become a way of coping and interpreting the unknown and dealing with situations that remain beyond human control.