From the big screen to THHS: Typical high school experiences

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By Nishat Ahmed and Charissa Jada Bachan, Staff Writers

Television often portrays high school as a stage in one’s life that is dictated by late night parties, dating drama, and foolish mistakes. However, when it comes to the daily life of students at Townsend Harris, these stereotypes often fail to be replicated. Upon entering high school, many Harrisites felt as if they were pulling all nighters for all the wrong reasons. What happened to staying up late at night to party? Why didn’t any high school character study for hours? Where were the typical bullies and mean girls? 

Regarding some of these high school stereotypes shown in pop culture, senior Rahme Shahed commented, “[There aren’t] really any of those ‘mean girls and cliques’ [that we see in movies and TV]. We have too much homework for that.”

Senior Hudaiba Khatri also agrees and believes that the things depicted in the entertainment industry don’t exist at all. She stated, “The issues and events that happen in movies [with highschool students] don’t exist. Despite the true realities of high school, drunk nights and forgotten morals still seem to be the main focus of high schools on TV. Directors are quick to fabricate these ‘perfect’ endings along with characters discovering a bigger ‘purpose’ or learning a ‘life lesson’ just so they can make something worthy of an Oscar.” 

Senior Khadiza Sultana agrees that movies do not depict the high school experience at Townsend Harris accurately. She said, “Those movies mess up because they [portray popular] cliques unrealistically bullying the nerds or the ‘smart kids.’ [Although cliques do exist in Townsend Harris], we’re all nerds here so we don’t really hate someone because they’re smart.” 

On the other hand, senior Javah Xie disagrees and commented, “I think all those stereotypes about late night parties, dating drama, and foolish mistakes in high school apply to Townsend Harris. It probably seems like those events happen less because our school is [much smaller] than most other high schools.” 

However, some Harrisites explained that they put their own spin on the common high school stereotypes shown on the big screen. Junior Alvin Zou even joked that, “For Townsend kids, foolish mistakes [typically occur] on tests.” Senior Stephan Harris also added that, “The stereotype of late night parties wouldn’t really happen at THHS; a late night study session is more likely to happen.” 

Senior Jasmine Sahai believes that “although the entertainment industry has failed in the past of depicting ‘typical high school experiences,’ they are getting better at showing the average life of a highschooler in their more contemporary works.” She added, “I was thinking of the Spiderman movies with Tom Holland. Even though not many highschoolers are secretly superheroes, I feel like they depict his life as a student fairly well. He has gym class and debate competitions and he initially declined being an Avenger because he had to study for a pre-calc test. That’s the most Townsend thing anyone has ever said.” 

A majority of students at Townsend Harris are different from high schoolers on the big screen because unlike them, students here tend to build their experiences in the midst of rigorous academics and extracurricular activities. Still, there are exceptions to this in which Harrisites prove to experience and embody the “typical high school experience” that is so well-known in the entertainment industry.