Monday, April 12, 2010

Where I Went to High School: SoMD*

When I was in high school mine was one of three in the county; it's one of four now. It had been built five years before my freshman year, and by the time I got there it was already overflowing with 200 more students than it was built to hold, and it had sank into the swamp about a quarter inch. Welcome to Calvert County.

The personalities of our three schools were predetermined: the northernmost school was built in the 70s with the ideology that windows are distracting and detrimental to the learning process, so the inside was dark and lit only by flourescent lights; the middling school (our rival) was the first high school of the county and built in the late 19th century, so there was constant construction and peeling paint; and the southernmost school (my alma mater) was built in the 90s with the new-age ideology that windows and open spaces are actually good for the learning environment. So my high school was, in a word, gorgeous; it was compared to a shopping mall by visiting students. It was also an extreme waste of space and money, so there were unusable seats in the auditorium and half-funded lab tables in the science wing.

I had the usual awkward high school experience I think, with high periods of silliness and notoriety (I got fired from the morning announcements and it is sometimes still brought up in conversation when catching up with old high school acquaintances), peppered with the occasional dramatic breakup or un-friending (before facebook!). My friends and I didn't drink or do drugs, a prevalent pastime in small-town America, so my high school memories are of parking lot dance parties after one of the thirteen-billion afterschool activities I was enmeshed in, bayside (or riverside, I can never remember which side of Solomons Island is which) picnics, a lot of loitering, and a LOT of driving around aimlessly.

I don't think my experience as an awkward, dramatic, self-centered, oddball teenager is in any way uncommon, but I often find that Hollywood seems to think so, and that irks me. Teenagers played by twenty-somethings often come off as smooth and experienced, but I am almost positive no teenager is without awkwardness, regardless of experience.

Obviously not every high schooler had "fairyland," an extensive playground in someone's backyard next door to the school, a popular class-skipping or sports team-running break hangout; or "the ghetto," the group of class trailers in the front parking lot put in place after the school ran out of room for trailers out back; or a school-wide inside joke about our crazy one-term Principal, who announced at the end of a long-winded speech on his first day that, "You don't mess with Libby, 'cause LIBBY DON'T PLAY," but everyone was sure awkward as hell, and that's kind of nice.

Comforting, even, knowing that some of my weirdest, most awkward moments ever can be retold and laughed [with] in the knowledge that everyone's got a story, like the time I asked a boy out by ambushing him and yelling that I was going to the movies (by myself) and did he want to go. Or the time my girlfriends and I skipped school to go shopping and I announced (loudly) in an upscale shoe store, "WHAT, DO THEY ONLY HAVE ONE OF EACH KIND??" Or the time my running buddies and I bowled each other over in a mad scramble to leap into the bushes and hide before the lacrosse team saw us all red-faced and sweaty. And the list goes on.

Oh, and to any former teachers who may come across the blogosphere and read this, I totally learned stuff, too. Like from my football coach/calculus teacher who punched holes in walls when he got excited about math, and my history teachers who made us climb under our desks and threw "shrapnel" at us to teach us about WWI and stole me from another class to put me on trial at a Red Scare hearing (and turned on the news on 9/11 because they knew how important it was, despite or to spite the administration's mandate to keep tvs turned off.) And the theatre teacher who made me realize what I wanted to do with my life, and the English teacher who still invites us over for tea every year. There's a whole other post in what some of my high school teachers did for me as a person, so I'll leave it at that.

My high school experience was a fitting metaphor for teenagehood, with awesomeness interspersed with absurdity and pain, and an overwhelming sense of relief that it's all over. Calvert County high school: God Bless Y'all Real Good.

*SoMD is what the natives affectionately call Southern Maryland, sometimes going a step further to call themselves SMIBs, or Southern Maryland InBreds. Clearly no one else is allowed to call us that but us.


Ozkirbas said...

To go on record, I've never called myself a SMIB. I have, however, called other people SMIBS

David Pratt said...

This project made me realize I'm the only Gentlemen who was already in college on 9/11.

Max Nova said...

@pratt - not quite the only one, sir.

Ozkirbas said...

Ya old geezers!

Maggie Brevig said...

Actually, CHS was built in 1965 when the white high school (now Calvert Middle School) and the black high school (formerly Brooks High School, now the Board of Education building) were integrated. Thank you, middle school history fair!

Re: SMIBs, yeah, I've never known anyone to call themselves it, but I do remember Mrs. Andersen assigning us an essay about... maybe what it means to be a SMIB? I can't recall, but that was actually the first time I heard the term, though I'd been in the CC since I was 2.


B.Graham said...

also I've been reminded to include FIGHT DAY 2004, in which there was at least one major fight between every single period. I think it was a full moon.

B.Graham said...

also also @mags - thanks for the insight; I had a feeling I may have been making that bit up... :/

Dialectric said...

I came late to the SoMd party, (not that much later than high school - I was only 23 or so when I first moved to beautiful St. Mary's City) but I can tell you what I learned: Calvert Co. ain't no SoMd. GOD LIVES IN RIDGE!!!!