Writer: Tanvi Kulkarni Editor: Rachel Cohn
From the late 1900s, high schools in young adult movies have signed the petition to manifest an exaggerated version of the U.S. education system. Over time, however, the once distinct line between real life high school and the one in the movies has become blurred. Among the several things that they share, something that stands out is the distinct social cliques. From Mean Girls, High School Musical to the latest movies on Netflix, the one thing that is common in all high schools is the lack of diversity in social cliques.
The cliques shown in the movies have made their way into the American High Schools making them even more like the aforementioned exaggerations in the movies. Just like in any other High School, Riverwood has developed its own very distinct and noticeable cliques. These said “friend groups” have created walls among the students. Walls that are too tenacious to break and too opaque to permit any interaction. Students have stopped getting out of their comfort zones and decided to stay in their original bubbles. This leads to situations where two classmates of two different cliques can go on without having any self-initiated interaction for the whole year.
Such distinct cliques have defied one of the very important factors of self-development: flexible social interactions. One of the important reasons for going to school, instead of being home-schooled, is that you get to meet people with diverse personalities and learn to interact with them. With rigid cliques, students have not only refused to interact with diverse people but have refused to acknowledge them all together.
These cliques seem harmless on the surface, but if you penetrate deeper, you will find where the toxicity brews. Social cliques end up being gossip hubs and places that initiate maximum assumptions or rumors about other students. These assumptions/rumors have become the core reasons for so many social issues (possibly) including bullying.
To reduce the humongous risk factors of rigid social cliques, the school has taken it upon themselves to break the walls to recreate the once friendly and diverse learning environment. Our principal, Ms. Kendra Smith, has taken it as her personal responsibility to form a sense of unity among the students. The teachers have joined the petition, creating clubs and social activities that help create unity and spread kindness. Examples of these groups are Students Against Destructive Decisions, Be the Voice Campaign and The No Place for Hate club. These student-based organizations that have the motive of spreading unity and kindness and are trying their hardest to achieve that goal.
The Be the Voice Campaign, the ongoing talk among the students, is a video-based campaign attempting to create a relatively clique-free environment. “‘Be the Voice’ campaign has attempted a ‘Life Saver’ activity and plans on executing more of such programs,” says Sra. Benitez, the sponsor for the organization. The “Life Saver” activity was an attempt to break down the cliques where they appear to be the most distinct: in the cafeteria. It was an attempt to mix up the students in the cafeteria, motivating them to interact with each other. The event was moderately successful and according to Sra. Benitez, students were easily able to create interesting and casual conversations with each other.
If we can talk to each other so easily when given a slight push, why do we stay so reluctant to step out of our comfort zones? “It is all about taking the first step,” said Sra. Benitez. The students are responsible for taking the first step towards forming friendships. These friendships help us grow into better human beings. In a world so diverse, it is crucial to meet different kinds of people and to be able to communicate comfortably with them. Maybe someone you just met will turn into a close friend.
So, the next time your teacher tells you to get into groups, step out of your comfort zone and pair up with someone you don’t know a lot about. Friendships form with these baby steps. We are not like the high school in Mean Girls or High School Musical, this is real life, and a real school, where race or social status does not bind us from forming friendships.