Tag Archives: school

The “S” (Cool S)


The “S”/Cool S



My informant describes the “S” or the “Cool S” as a drawing of an “S” in a graffiti-like style. She has first seen it during elementary school, where classmates would draw this “S” in their notebooks or the margins of their papers. She interprets it as something kids would also teach each other how to draw. It consists of two rows of three lines that are connected to make a pointy letter “S”.


I interpret the “S” as mostly children’s folklore. The “S” has very unclear origins outside of school because it is where people learn about it and how to draw it. I notice that this spread simply through children learning and teaching each other. This iconic drawing’s origin may have been lost most likely because it was children who spread it. The graffiti style of the “S” could also imply rebellion. In many schools in America, gang signs and anything that could resemble a gang symbol are typically banned. While the “S” does not particularly represent anything specific, children still gravitate drawing and spreading this symbol just for some inconsequential malicious compliance.

A Lucky New Year

“At the beginning of every new year, my mom and dad put an item related to school in front of Ganesha to bless my brother and I for the year to come”

At the beginning of each year, their parents pray and place an item, usually dealing with education, in front of Ganesha, one of the most worshipped Hindu deities or gods. In Hinduism, Ganesha is associated with success and removes obstacles in one’s life. This is done to bring blessings to the kids for the new year and to bring success and well-being into their lives. For her, her mother places textbooks and a student ID in front of Ganesha. Education is considered to be extremely sacred in Indian culture, specifically for her family. Education, and objects pertaining to it, are symbolic of her whole life “in the eyes of Ganesha” and seen as a sacred pursuit, thus the obstacles on this path will be removed. She also emphasized that it is a ritual and tradition she will carry on for her own family as well.

My first interpretation of this tradition was that it would bring good luck and success into their educational journey, and while that has an aspect, it also encompasses practically their entire life, rather than just the education portion. Due to the importance that education has in Indian religion, it can be seen as one of the more important factors to put blessings into. This ritual was learned through the Hindu culture, demonstrating that something like textbooks can be considered a folklore object, and the act of placing them as a gift for a deity is a folklore practice passed down through families and communities. While folklore is often word of mouth stories and myths, it can intersect with religion and the culture that surrounds it, in this case Indian culture. This practice connects her and her family to their heritage just as folklore intends to do, additionally with the prayers spoken by the parents have been passed down through their ancestors, continuing on today.

Ghost of the 600 wing

My informant told me about the legend of the ghost of the 600 wing from his high school.

These were a collection of stories or rumors that were spread in his high school. According to my informant, there weren’t ‘sightings’ of the ghost. Instead there were often events that were attributed to the ghost, such as the internet going out, or creaking noises being heard. These events were tied to the ghost because of other stories that were spread among the students. My informant wasn’t able to identify a clear source, but mentioned stories about a mysterious closet that contained corpses.

These stories all have the possibility of happening. The 600 wing is supposedly one of the older wings, leading to more warped floors which can be explanation for the creaking noises. The age of the wing can also explain the interruptions of the internet.

Ghost stories tend to originate in places that are spooky or eerie. These can include abandoned or old buildings, or places with religious significance. This high school wing checks both boxes. The environment allows the creation of these ghost stories.

The ghost stories are able to continue to exist because of multiple things. My theory is that teachers welcome them as the dissuade students from exploring too much. Although students may not truly believe in ghosts, there is always that “what if?” that stops students from going too far. On the student’s side, it is fun to have a ghost story tied to the school. It helps build a bond between the students and their school and can be something that they joke about.

Wearing the same shirt to all tests in nursing school


When AH was in nursing school, she would always wear a specific Brett Eldredge shirt to tests. She believed that it brought her good luck.


I met the informant, AH, through friends when we saw Kelsea Ballerini together. She likes many other country artists as well, including Brett Eldredge. He is her favorite singer and he feels like a good luck charm to her. Plus, wearing his merch gives her a sense of comfort as she walks into stressful situations like nursing school tests. AH started doing this on her own early in her nursing school years.


I related to what AH said, as I have done the same with Taylor Swift shirts during big tests for school. The superstitious belief that certain things we wear, especially if we associate them with people we love, can bring us good luck is very common. Realistically, there is no direct link between what we wear and how well we do on our tests – there might be a correlation, but that doesn’t always equal causation. But, we like to think there is one in order to relieve our anxiety. It makes us feel like we have control over the results in more ways than we actually do. Of course, this is done after hours of studying, but when you value academic performance as much as AH and I do, you’re under the mindset that every little thing helps. Neither of us are very religious, but this ritual does reflect our belief in luck and superstition, to an extent. Our decisions about what to do, especially on important days like test days, aren’t always rooted in logic that can be proven.

Bloody Mary in the Bathroom – Legend


J is a screenwriting second-year at USC, raised in Canada but moved to American when J was 10 years old. The below text is a story told among the female students at J’s elementary school.


When J was in elementary school, there was a bathroom where people said that a girl had died in while she was a student in school who continued to haunt the bathroom because of how gruesome her death was without finding peace. Her spirit believed to be lingering there resulted in the creation of their own version of Bloody Mary. Students would say that “Bloody Mary lives in that bathroom.” They could tell because it was the very last stall and one of the pipes on the toilet had a splash of red paint on it, which students thought was blood. J themselves would go to the stall at the end of the day, and never got haunted by Bloody Mary. But, J was always on edge in the bathroom, where every little noise or motion may “summon” Bloody Mary, so J never did the “summoning” (saying Bloody Mary) to not chance the possibility of the ghost.


This narrative takes advantage of two legend themes: ghosts and Bloody Mary. Ghosts are an entity that lives on liminal boundaries: the line between life and death, human and non-human, and science and will power. The legend of a ghost forces the audience to question if one’s will truly is strong enough to overrule death, if a death with regret strong enough truly can provide haunting, or if there really is a line between life and death that is invisible to the living. Death itself is enigmatic and frightening for the living, so ghosts are a way people cope with it. For an audience as young as elementary students, ghosts not only become a way to deal with the permanence of death, but also a way to refuse grieving or accepting death, tying ghost narrative back to anti-hegemonic childhood folklore. So, the ghost itself as a literary object in a story subtly questions much of the real world’s ideas of death, maybe even denying them outright. Furthermore, because the legend is also about Bloody Mary, the story also becomes a coming-of-age for young girls. Bloody Mary serves the mark women’s menstrual cycle, a point at which blood comes out of the body, the girl is no longer chained to childhood and has to face harsh reality. Avoiding the bathroom stall avoids Bloody Mary, avoiding growing up as a young woman. An acknowledgement that Bloody Mary is not real (this childhood rumor is not real) marks a turning point in the young female world, that they have “risen above” childhood, gotten their period (marked by blood..Bloody Mary) and became women.