Idealizing high school traditions lead to disappointment
By HENRY HSIA
No high school experience is complete without rallies, prom, homecoming or graduation. But is that really true?
High school seems to be defined by big events and traditions: the big end of year rally, the massive battle between the classes, the unforgettable dance that signifies your graduation into adulthood and the iconic walk across the stage to collect your diploma and a firm handshake. These high school traditions may seem overrated, but can still hold importance for your high school experience.
One such example of an overrated high school tradition is school spirit rallies. These rallies have become a common way to increase school spirit and break students from their otherwise mundane lives in high schools across the United States. Yet, many people take the competition between different graduating classes very seriously, to the point where some students actively try to sabotage other classes. The battle of the classes is meant to be a fun and competitive event, not an all-out deathmatch between sworn enemies.
However, when done right, school spirit rallies can easily be memorable experiences. Since every American goes through a similar high school experience, these traditions often stand out in conversation. A fifty-year-old from California can have a conversation with a twenty-five-year-old from Alabama about his experience at prom, or the tribulations associated with his graduation ceremony. These high school traditions are part of what makes us American and can help bond strangers or long-distant friends together. At the same time, these traditions are not as important after high school. Will you remember who won the battle of the classes in your senior year a decade down the line? Probably not. Though rallies can still serve as a good catalyst for actual memorable moments, we must remember that these moments do not define our high school experience.
Prom, however, seems to be a different beast altogether. Posters promoting the event are all around school. Prom-posals with flashy posters and even flashier reactions are daily occurrences. The upcoming dance becomes the only discussable subject among your friends. The importance of prom is also frequently reinforced in media, especially in movies. Who can forget the majestic scene where the guy picks up his date in a limo for prom, or the montage of Peter Parker preparing for Homecoming in the latest Spider-Man movie? With all of this in mind, how could an event that your peers, popular culture and even your parents deem extraordinary be disappointing and forgettable?
It is hard not to get caught up in the hype surrounding prom. Yet, as wonderful as prom may seem, students often place unrealistic expectations on the dance, awarded with nothing but disappointment when the day finally comes. Maybe the tuxedo or dress you purchased weeks ago suddenly refuses to fit. Perhaps the food served at the venue is atrocious and you have no energy for the entire night.
Disappointment is inevitable after the event as well. Most high school relationships do not last, and after-parties are often prevalent with drugs and underage drinking. Prom is supposed to be the culmination of your four years of high school, but any slight hindrance to the monumental pedestal you place the night on immediately results in disappointment.
Yet, similar to school spirit rallies, prom connects Americans to a common experience and can serve as the catalyst for truly memorable moments. Next to graduation, prom is one of the last times students can really hang out with friends. Couple that with the freedoms of adulthood and you have the recipe for an unforgettable night, regardless of the fact that prom itself might have been a disappointing experience.
So, while high school traditions and events might seem impregnable during high school, in the grand scheme of things they are not as crucial as often described. College and adult life vastly overshadow high school life in complexity, making up for disappointing high school experiences. High school events do, however, set up more personal moments that one is sure to recall fondly. High school traditions are part of what defines us as Americans, even if the traditions themselves are overrated.