Bartlett, Illinois. It isn’t particularly a place that screams excitement, or thriller. It doesn’t really scream anything at all actually. To the outsiders, it’s a place with a “historic downtown” that you’ll miss if you blink twice consecutively while driving by. To the people that live here though, it’s worth more than the downtown that’s supposed to make it special. The “what” is overthrown by the “where,” so here are 12 signs you are from Bartlett, Illinois.
1. BHS fight week
An infamous time when the high school students got too rowdy because of a syllabus change. Did this stop students after they saw the first fight get separated and dragged to the deans office? No, not even slightly. The extra staff in the hallway didn’t deter any altercation either. Something about that week was meant for straight peril. Eyes scanned hallways and targets weren’t a spur of the moment; the fights that took place were fights that were brewing for days, weeks, maybe even months. I watched silently as girls scaled lunch room tables, screamed across the open rooms, and started with voice and switched to hands shortly after. I saw more girls fight that week than boys fight, so yeah…lots of random hair was found surrounding the scene and even after the janitors did their rounds.
Bartlett High School isn’t shady, but that week, a record was set for the most fights in a 5-day period. I was a junior when this all took place and new administration has since been established; BHS is now under great supervision by Principle Demovsky who is making positive new changes everyday. However, that week will never be forgotten in Bartlett, Illinois history.
2. The Bartlett high School rock
Oh the joys! There’s no constitution for what the rock was, aside from a concept that it was suppose to deter school vandalism and encourage spray paint on the random piece of hard earth at the student entrance of the parking lot. Typically speaking, Varsity sports of BHS would spray the rock during important times during their season. These times could include team bonding, team sleepovers, rivalry wins, regionals, sectionals, state etc. In all honesty I don’t know who put the rock there or how long it’s been there; I just know that for the majority of my varsity career, the rock was for sports teams.
So, when I was a mere sophomore playing Varsity and our rock masterpiece was over-sprayed 15 minutes after we left by the drama department, girls got angry. This took place on a Friday and that weekend the rock was repainted 5 different times. There were twitter fights, Instagram messages, harsh text messages, and attacks on both programs. This is ridiculous and I’m aware, but when you’re 16 the rock was a big deal. This is a personal story and there are many, many more, but if you’re from Bartlett, you knew that rocks were taken seriously.
3. The In-house basketball league at BCC.
For those of you don’t know what the BCC is, well I suggest you go tour the premises because #4 and #5 also arise in this legendary area. If you played basketball and were a guy, you typically would sign up for rec basketball and play in a league you shouldn’t be playing in with a bunch of guys that were doing the same thing as you. Then, all of the girls that were into you, dragged there by you, or bored on a Saturday morning/afternoon would show up and cheer you on as you got demolished or splashed threes from half court; there wasn’t really an in-between.
4. AO and meeting your buddies at open gym.
AO on the other hand was not ran by refs and was simply a park basketball court that attracted anybody willing to ball up without a shirt on and brag about it on their snapchat stories. Bored? Go to AO. Want people to think you’re athletic? Go to AO. The girl that’s super into you but you don’t want to commit to really wants to hangout with you in 2 hours? Go to AO for 4 hours! It was a resolution for many guys, and in all honesty I would rather see them there than causing trouble elsewhere. Now back to the simpler times before we all had cars and AO.
5. Open gym!!!
Yes, this took place at BCC and don’t forget your Bartlett parks card because those 16 year olds running open gym will not accept your 5 dollars without giving you a forceful suggestion that you should get a card for your next visit. They called it a “warning” but I never got a card so for me it was more of a “ritual.”
Bartlett itself acquired a new spelling when “lit” went viral—so viral that to prove Bartlett was exciting, a good amount of the teens emphasized the “lett” in Bartlett to make it sound like “Bart-lit.” This new spelling made instagram captions on the daily. But you’re probably wondering about the dirty six-thirty right?
7. The dirty six-thirty.
Well this isn’t as juicy as it seems—it’s an area code thing. We have an area code of 630, so before cell phones were everywhere and landlines were still a thing, the majority of people’s phone numbers started with 630. Humans seem to love mysteries and it’s the unknown that usually keeps us interested, so I guess this is why the word dirty was thrown into the mix; it makes the people using this term seem more *insert word that is synonymous for “exotic” because I really don’t want to use this word but I personally don’t have a better explanation as to why it stuck in the first place.* So that’s that.
8. 99 cent hotdogs on Tuesdays.
This was the move of all moves, and if you’re feeling sendy, get a side of extra pickles. Thank you Tony!
If you went to Bartlett High School you were a Hawk, but if you moved to the area, the chances of you coming from a school that had a Hawk as their mascot was likely (@Hoffman Estates). ((This made soccer games beyond confusing.)) But even our elementary school, Centennial, had a mascot that matched this theme: we were the Eagles. So yes, the majority of my school spirit wear has a bird on it with over-emphasized facial features for extra intimidation factor. It’s a great day to be a hawk.
10. Bartlett Pool.
Nothing too earth shattering except that the Bartlett pool added a lazy river after my friends and I all grew out of our attending-the-public-pool-because-it’s-cool-to-buy-overpriced-ice cream-and-get-burned-because-we-didn’t-actually-put-on-sunscreen phase. This would have been a much better experience if the lazy river was there, and now the majority of my friends work at the pool, so they just have to save the kids in it that don’t know how to swim; the kids that will never know what a childhood without a lazy river is like.
11. Bartlett Public Library.
Using the Bartlett Public Library, but only for checking out movies. I checked out books every once and awhile but not until I was in high school. The majority of my time using the library was strictly for my movication. (movication = movie education; this was a Pitch Perfect reference. If you didn’t get it, I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.)
12. South Elgin.
Our boundary lines aren’t particularly logical to put it nicely. My one friend lives a subdivision away from Bartlett High School and it takes her 2 minutes to get there, while I live 7 minutes away on a good day, and about 9 subdivisions away. She doesn’t go to Bartlett High School, but I do. This causes a lot of pent up rage in students that have to drive 25 minutes to South Elgin and apparently they like to take it out on the people like me that grew up in Bartlett and attend BHS. It’s not like I was at the board meeting that established the layout of what kids go where. I’m sorry! It is a challenge because a good amount of SE kids are friends with BHS kids, so at the end of the day we deemed everything “fun and games.”
I just find it super ironic that these kids would bash BHS anytime they stepped foot on it or even just drove by. It was so bad that at sporting events SE and BHS students had to use different exits because the deans and police officers wanted to avoid fights. It’s not like the parking lots were separated so the fights took place anyways. But that was high school and emotions are everywhere so I am not dwelling on any of it—an article about Bartlett just wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention the residents that hate on its high school. These people are not bad people, but they are involved in so many stories that leaving them out felt like an injustice.
These are just 12 things about growing up in Bartlett, Illinois, and there are infinitely more that tie my friends and me to Bartlett. If you ask the kid from across town he could give you these same 12 signs and express them differently, but that’s his story to tell. These signs may die with us, or their legacies may live on through the history books, but regardless, my childhood was anything but subtle. Bartlett introduced me to some of my closest friends, strangest best friends, oddest frenemies, and the rarest of places. Like I said, it’s not the what, but the where… specifically Bartlett, Illinois.