High School Has Changed. For Worse and for Better.


Good Evening:
I visited the East Coast this week to attend the high school graduation of my niece. I graduated high school in the year MTLA, a Roman numeral that equals Much Too Long Ago, and things have changed a lot since then. Oh, have they ever changed a lot since then:
1. My graduation ceremony did not have at least eight cops patrolling the event. Actually, we had zero.
2. My graduation ceremony did not include a weapons check.
3. My graduating class did not include a blind student.
4. My graduating class did not include two wheelchair students.
The more I think about this, the more baffled I feel. I feel shamefully ignorant; I can’t tell you what happened to disabled/differently abled children in that America. Such students simply didn’t exist in my world, unless the wrestling team competed against schools for the deaf or blind. Who knows where the wheelchair-bound went? I don’t.
5. The Salutarian (sp?) referred to his gay and lesbian friends in the student body. In Roman numeral MTLA, homosexuals did not exist in high school; seriously, you did not know of their existence until at least college, possibly later. I should correct myself. All I knew about gay people is I didn’t know that my classmates secretly thought I was gay until I, uh, shall we say, accidentally proved them wrong.
6. My graduating class was 95% white, 4% Asian, 1% black. My niece’s class was Hispanic, African-American, white and Asian. In that order. The demographics are changing and those who don’t adapt will fall behind.
No question about it; the need for cops and weapon checks disturb me. And yet the acceptance of a greater variety of differences among students seems to indicate genuine hope for our future.
It seems that every day I learn that I don’t know something counts as a good day. Now if I could just learn it, preferably before my age equals MTLA…
Vonn Scott Bair


2 responses »

  1. So many modern schools i see remind me of prisons. I truly wonder if i had gone through heavily fortified schools with uniforms or strict dress codes, how i would have handled it. Part of me thinks i would have rebelled and gotten into trouble, yet that may just be an adult who grew up in the MTLA era dropping his psyche into a new reality. Maybe growing up in the environment lessens the obnoxious (and maybe necessary) authoritarianism of it?

    • S.P.: Good thoughts, as usual. One interesting thought to consider–to what extent do the parents of schoolchildren *want* the schools to become prison-like? Of course, no one uses such a term. We use terms like “safety” and “protection” and “security” instead. Furthermore, nothing in Connecticut is far from anything else in the state, so New Haven is very close to Newtown. Things like state and federal background checks of all school employees, armed guards and the like have perhaps become necessary–but what does that say about America? Then again, school shootings have become commonplace–and what does that say about America? Vonn Scott Bair

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