People push and shove desperate to arrive at their destination. On the right a girl and boy kiss. Up ahead a fight breaks out. There is a traffic jam of students in the sea of bodies floundering to class. This is high school. My high school. I sigh and pause in the midst of the log jam and look around at the crowds split up into groups of jocks, “hot” popular people, goths, aggies, loners and troublemakers. I could sit here for days and describe what I see.
Why are we like that? Why do people divide into these groups? How can teenagers try and learn the dance and fit into the puzzle of cliques we refer to as school?
In high school its not just one big happy family. The students are split up into different social groups. There’s the princess’, the jocks, the rebels, the weirdo’s and the nerds all forced to be together. Sounds like the movie, ‘The Breakfast Club’ where an odd collection of students from different cliques are forced to spend a Saturday in detention together.
High school is very much like ‘The Breakfast Club’ because people from different cliques are forced to be together just like the kids were forced together in detention in the movie.
In high school the different social groups are forced to be together for 8 hours a day. People are defined by the clothes they wear, the music they listen to and of course the cliques they follow. A clique is defined as a particular social group. People tend to flock to the social group and people that are most like themselves, or the people they want to emulate. For a high-schooler, the need to be liked and accepted by a small group of friends can seem like the most important thing in the world. Cliques are close niches of friends who most of the time stick together because they are similar in so many ways.
Cliques can also have a disadvantage as well. Some people are made “scapegoats” by a clique, they are often outcasts and ridiculed by others. Girls seem to communicate better than boys since the dawn of time. Girls resolve or deal with their problems by speaking out, and boys abuse becomes physical because they have no other way to express it.
My first day in a public school was in seventh grade. I didn’t know too many people and I was really nervous about one particular event, lunch. I didn’t know who I would sit with. When I walked in the cafeteria door I scanned the area for people that struck my eye. In the corner of the room I saw eight girls laughing and giggling together. There was a pull of energy like a magnet and I made my way over there. These girls have been my closest and dearest friends since that day. This is the way cliques are made. People flock to the groups that they feel most comfortable in.
Throughout schools around the world there are a few basic cliques; popular, jocks, preps, geeks, rebels, and the black sheep of the crowd.
Popular people are the students that follow the latest trend. They flock to the mall to buy the new Jennifer Lopez CD or to pick up the hottest Mudd Jeans. They know all the gossip in all the magazines and throughout the school. They have to have their hair just perfect.
These people are always revered as the royalty of school. Though some in this crowd can be as nice as can be, most are not.
Most of the people that are popular are cocky, arrogant and full of themselves. Popular people can be so mean and nasty that people look up to them so they don’t get their heads snapped off. These people are the ones that are also dating at a very young age.
They seem to grow up too fast, and don’t stop to smell the roses. Everyone looks at them as being perfect because of the way they look and the way they carry themselves.
Elizabeth is a sixteen year old from an exclusive community in northeast Ohio
“When someone is popular others have usually designated them to be a leader,” she said. “This person is often (but not always) mean, funny, rich, nearly always charismatic, and what other people want to be.”
In some schools the preps are popular. In my school, Wamogo High School, in Litchfield, the popular people are the ones who wear the in- style clothes and the ones that are often too mature for their age.
A student from Kennedy High School described the popular people as the ones that smoke pot and do drugs. “The reason is they all stay together and they are known for having crazy parties,” she said. “They aren’t losers because they’re like “I only wear Sean John and designer clothing” or “I carry a Gucci purse” so I suppose they can afford the pot. There are others who smoke, but they’re not friends with the popular people.”
Do these people ever look past the whole popularity thing? Do they ever look down the road and think of the future? These questions were posed to a beautiful and popular teenager in my school. “Yeah, I look down the road to the future. I’m going to join a sorority, marry a rich guy, and then I’ll get fat…”
That definitely answered my question.
In every movie ever made the school big shots are always the jocks. Most TV shows and movies revolve around sports, that’s what draws in the viewers. The jocks are the people that are totally immersed in sports. During football or basketball season the most popular people in my school, and many others around the country, are the players. They play sports which keeps them in tip top shape.
This crowd mainly consists of people that play sports, and the popular people mentioned above. Many players are pushed to be the very best at their sport by their parents because a sports scholarship is the only way they can get into college. They delve into the sports and their friends so much that school doesn’t really matter to them. Often times they use the smart people and the nerds as a crutch to get them through school.
Playing on a sports team is a clique in it’s own right. When I played soccer my team was my clique. My closest friends played with me and my team members and I shared an experience that no one else could be a part of. This is what happens within team sports. A lot of times the members of a team don’t get along so they have to do bonding functions and team parties. This helps bring the group closer together, but it’s also a great way to have fun and add more memories to the scrapbook.
The jocks are popular because they are watched by many people at their games. The crowds learn their names. Just like a Yankee fan might know everyone on the team, a high school sports fan will do the same. During soccer season, the girls team would sometimes go watch the guys play. There was this one particular player that I thought was intriguing. I had never met him before but I felt like I knew him by watching him play. That’s how these players become so popular.
Some people think different.
“What’s so great about these people?” one girl told me. “The cheerleaders and the jocks aren’t all their cracked up to be. Under the beautiful faces and great talent they’re just regular people, not gods.”
While I’m writing this article a new WB television show called “One Tree Hill” came on. Why do the very beautiful popular people always have to be couples? The blonde cheerleader and the gorgeous basketball player are the biggest couple in the school. Its a bad message, but this is what seems to happen in real life as well. Guys and girls flock to their own cliques and find love or a short term relationship with people that make them look good and don’t ruin their reputation.
Girls and boys have this image drilled into their heads of the perfect man or woman. What do you think Barbie and Ken dolls were for? The individuals that really stand out to me are the people that defy the odds and date the person they want to, no matter where they stand in social status.
The nerds are more or less the brains of the school. This group is filled with many students who strive for greatness through academic achievements. In movies the nerds are always personified as the character that wears goofy clothes but can recite the periodic table in 5 seconds. Throughout my time in school there has been a stereotype for nerds on how they look and dress and act. Last year for soccer we had a dress like nerds and geeks day to bond together and prepare for the game. People dressed in flooded pants, glasses with tape in the middle, pocket protectors, knee highs, and tweed sweaters.
Other students often use these people for their intelligence. Deep inside the nerds desperately want to fit in so they give in to the demands of the higher “power” and help with homework, quizzes and tests.
Ten hours away from here in Hudson, Ohio, the cliques are a little different but generally the same as most. My cousin Elizabeth is a junior and attends the local Hudson High School. She said that everyone in Hudson is a prep, then things branch off of that. She is a prep and an orchestra dork. That’s not a term used often in my school. I had to ask her what it was. She explained that an orchestra dork is a person who is basically only friends with the people in their orchestra. Since Hudson High happens to have a huge orchestra, there are a lot of choices of friends.
In my cousin’s school the nerdy people are often times very popular. “They are often ‘cool” because they’re funny, usually smart and they will be the Bill Gates of the world,” she said. “They can also be irritating and dorky in their own right.”
Preps are often times the rich and snobby people of the school. They wear the nice clothes and everything is expensive. Preps aren’t that common in Wamogo High School but in Hudson the school is dominated by them. “ MY ENTIRE SCHOOL!!! , Elizabeth described, owns ‘preppy clothing’ (J. Crew, Aeorpastle, American Eagle and Abercrombie).
“They often act like they’re better than others,” Elizabeth said. “They are usually smart and attractive but most of them look like each other, twins you could say.” Preps often obsess about their grades in Hudson High School and Elizabeth said a lot of times they are the extremely smart people in a class.
The creative minds of any school are often found within the artistic, musical and bohemian cliques. These people are into music, dance and the arts. They wear clothes that are comfortable and that define them as different from any regular Joe. They take all the music classes the school has to offer and immerse themselves in music. Often times they are in bands outside of school, play at coffee houses and do anything they can to keep music coursing through their veins. I have been very involved in my school’s music department since seventh grade. I’m around this atmosphere all the time. Music is my passion and everyone in this group is also the same way. Instead of being a jock and pouring all the sweat and tears into sports, its music and art 24/7.
Through my research I’ve discovered that druggies, alcoholics and ravers can be found in any schools, which is pretty sad. These are the people that do drugs and drink on a regular basis. They go to Raves and parties almost every weekend. A lot of times the people that are in these cliques have some trouble at home or are rebelling against their parents, society or even themselves. They don’t care all that much about their appearance, just on when they’ll get their next high. They don’t care that much about grades either. Many of the people that are into drugs have the closest group of friends because they hang out with them every day and share intimate situations with them, possibly because of something they are on.
I took a class last year and I was the only freshman in an all senior music class. Some of the students in there were ravers, druggies and alcoholics – you name it, they’d done it. I heard some pretty whacky stories from those folks, but it was also interesting to learn about their lives. They were all bosom buddies, attached at the hip because they were always doing drugs together. That class was a bizarre experience, but one that I have learned a lot from as well. Lessons about life that I will never forget.
These two cliques (Music and Druggies) sometimes mesh. The most creative minds are often alcoholics or drug addicts. I personally know a few from my own school. It’s amazing how people so smart and creative can also be so dumb as to stoop to the level of using drugs. They can do so much more with their lives.
Alex, a senior from Kennedy High School described to me what the cliques were like in her school. I found them interesting and quite different from the ones found at my own suburban school. She is in the SOAR program and says that she is in the SOAR clique because they are isolated from everyone else. “We’re basically separated, so from the Kennedy population in general we are all pretty different and tend to stick together, but within SOAR there are lots of cliques too,” she explained.
She said that the Catholic school kids stay together mainly, and the West Siders stick together as much as possible. Within those groups there are tons more. “There’s the pot smokers (who are popular, and mean, and dumb) and then there’s the losers who concentrate on school way too much, and then there’s the ghetto wannabe people who think they are black, but they’re white (can you say Justin Timberlake?), and then there’s my group – the artsy alternative people. We’re like the outcasts, but there’s enough of us to be popular in our own way.”
I can relate to the group she is in, because if I had a clique, that would be it.
A few of my good friends attend Westover, an all girls school in Middlebury, CT. I asked them about the type of cliques found there. In freshman year students flock to the girls that they feel comfortable with. “But there are no discriminate cliques. People hangout with different people of course, but people for the most part will accept everybody,” Robyn,15, said.
Its a lot different than public schools. Girls can let down their guard a bit and be themselves without the pressure of guys around.
“Everyone is kind of mixed up together,” Alannah,15 exclaimed. “There are only 50 people in a class so everyone knows everyone and people find themselves fitting in everywhere.”
It was very interesting to learn about this, since I don’t go to an all girls school.
Cliques don’t just end when you put on the cap and gown and walk out the high school doors. The world is split up into cliques. I see it everyday in our society. Political parties are major cliques. People split off and go after their beliefs whether its Democrat, Republican, Independent or even Green Party, it doesn’t matter but they are still cliques.
The reason they are cliques is because they separate people from one another. Humans group themselves into major religious cliques such as Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Protestants. Ethnic cliques could be Black, White and Hispanic. These cliques are much bigger than the ones found in high school. Some adults say that cliques in high school are just a way to fit in and that its childish, but in reality they do it too.
I have a very different outlook on cliques than most of my friends. I don’t belong to one. I am what text books call a “floater”. I have no specific clique. I bounce around to all different groups and fit in most everywhere. People are defined by the group of people they belong to, and the floater, who is just by themselves, is defined as the person they are. Floaters are usually people who can make friends easily and accept different types of people.
Cliques will stick with you throughout high school, college and in life. People flock to the groups they feel the most comfortable with. Most places consist of all these different little groups of people. There are only a few people in a school that just loom on their own. The black sheep of the crowd. People should just be themselves and then you will find out really where you fit in. You can’t pretend to be something you’re not. The charade gets old. So from the get go, people should just be who they are, and find a clique that fits them and they feel comfortable in.
Or be in no clique at all.
(Chelsea Murray is 15 years old and a sophomore at Wamogo Regional High School in Litchfield)