If you’ve made it past graduation, you’ve definitely survived high school. Public high schools are all tough and some private schools may be better or worse depending on your personality, but if you’re from Seacoast NH, you’ll understand that it’s a feat to have survived Exeter High School – no, I don’t mean P.E.A.
1. When asked where you went to school, you immediately jump to “The Other Exeter”
You’re so tired of explaining that when you say you went to Exeter High School, you do not in fact mean Phillips Exeter. You mean the public, “other” Exeter. So now, you just jump right to that last part.
2. You’re Facebook friends with everyone, or almost, from your Senior Class – bullies and besties alike
When those rose-colored graduation glasses set in, there is no escaping them. You’re signing year books left and right and Facebook befriending people that earlier that year you’d have thought you could never be friends with. Then, years later, you’re wondering how they’re doing as if you were close friends – sometimes more so than the people you were actually friends with in high school. Weird, but true.
3. You know what a Pass The Torch ceremony is like
Just one more assembly you have to attend Senior year. It’s kind of cool though, because they present the Senior slide show and you get to see yourself with all your friends, at least once or twice. Maybe it’s also that feeling of superiority and nostalgia mixed together.
4. The Senior Play (or Film) is something you experienced first hand
Mr. Eric Doucet has become infamous in his role as leader of the Senior Play at EHS. Some years he has instead helped the Senior class create a film instead, for posterity of course. Which was an interesting if doomed endeavor, at least in the first year it was attempted (2013).
5. You’ve ridden the classic yellow school bus
Now, this is not an exact number, but there were about 30 buses assigned to bring students to and from EHS, considering the fact that it’s a cooperative school between about six towns. Even if you never had to ride the bus to your own house, it’s more likely than not that you either took a bus to a friend’s house, took a “late bus” for after school programs, on a field trip, or for a sporting event.
6. You’ve attended a Veteran’s Day pep rally
Veteran’s Day is a big deal at EHS, so it’s usually celebrated with a large, mandatory pep rally. Usually it’s not such a peppy occasion though. There is a little enthusiasm that comes from honoring past EHS student veterans who are given a diploma despite never graduating due to involvement in the military.
7. You survived at least one mosh pit
I’m not talking about the kind in the middle of the dance floor, though you’ve probably been through that torture, too. Actually, I’m referring to the squishy, blob of a line that forms by the tables to pick up your bag or coat at the end of the dance. It can get very claustrophobic and even a bit dangerous. Yikes!
8. The idea of Hawks dressed as Eagles battling Native Americans seems normal
Usually, the Homecoming football game or the pep rally before it starts with a display of violence between a set of Bluehawks and Native Americans, the EHS and WHS mascots. However, as most at EHS know, the “Hawk” costume at EHS is actually an eagle costume, and it’s not blue. So, normal as this seems to us, an outsider would be completely confused. Especially as birds don’t tend to tackle humans.
9. Unless you’re in sports, you probably don’t know the school song
As far as I know, sports students are required to know the school song. However, most of the non-sports people I knew never truly learned the song. Occasionally it was listed on the back of programs, like for the graduation ceremony. A few years ago it was painted on a wall near the Health Education wing, but it may no longer be there.
10. You used to know the front office workers personally
In the past, there has been a student assistant, so of course you’d know that person. Still, the reasons for going to the front office are plentiful, and by the end of your four years at EHS, you’ll come to know the front office workers by name and face – and they’ll know you.
11. You’re surprised that everything still looks relatively the same – and smaller – when you visit
Visiting your old high school years after graduating, as an alumnus, is always going to feel weird. Surreal? Maybe. Then again, it could just be that even if you haven’t grown taller, the space feels smaller than when you went there. That could be because you’ve grown out of your teenage mindset or just because you are no longer under the power of those within its walls.
12. A gym locker or the hallways have swallowed one or more of your personal items
The gym locker space was notorious for the cause of lost clothing and jewelry. The hallways get pretty crowded between classes, too, though. Small items are easy to lose in hustle and bustle of getting from Point A to Point B between the bells. Then again, I’m sure there were plenty of you who’ve had items confiscated and possibly never returned. The school may not be located on a Hell Mouth, but it certainly eats personal belongings.
13. There is a massive amount of paperwork and essay-writing in your past
EHS requires a lot of writing assignments to prepare students for the real world and standardized testing. Mostly standardized testing. On the other hand, it takes a lot of paperwork to graduate from EHS. A lot of trees pass through that school.
14. Wearing short skirts and spaghetti strap tank tops still feels like a treat
Although there is technically no forced uniform at EHS, it sure feels like there is. Clothing is a way to express personality, but showing skin is not okay – particularly for girls. Part of the reason there are so many scantily clad girls on college campuses is due to the renewed sense of freedom in dressing that comes with a college education in the U.S.
15. You’re still waiting on a Senior Lounge
A few of the past Senior classes were promised their very own, private Senior Lounge. However, due to budget and student behavioral problems, it’s never happened.
16. You’re not used to administrative staff keeping the same position for more than two or three academic years
The admin staff changes a lot at EHS, especially the principal. I’m not sure if that’s the fault of unruly students, a poor work environment and benefits, or the principals themselves. Whatever it is, hopefully someday the school can keep an administrative staff intact for an entire student’s EHS career.
17. Automated voicemail messages get you excited
EHS has a lot of snow days. When they do, the office leaves messages on parent cell phones and home phones, whichever ones are in the system. These automated voices state exactly why and when school or school events are canceled.
18. Eating in the courtyard was freedom
Spring and Autumn were the best times of the academic year because during lunch you could spend time outside, even if it was just two feet away in the courtyard. It was one less way to feel cooped up for over eight hours a day.
19. You’ve had a concussion or two
I had a friend in high school who couldn’t seem to stop getting concussions. However, the way the double doors were arranged in most of the hallways, with a concrete slab separating them, means that it’s not hard to bump into something. Not to mention the fact that students are often occupied by phones or friends between classes and avoiding other students. That’s just one more thing to avoid.
20. As sad as it is to point out, you probably know at least one student who didn’t survive EHS
For me, the first person I knew who didn’t survive EHS was Chris Daoust, and I’d like to consider this article a dedication to him. He was in my 5th grade class, so even though we were never really close friends, his suicide was difficult for me – we had a pretty tight knit crew in Mrs. Morrison’s class. There were others throughout my time at EHS and a few car accidents that took lives as well. So it’s definitely tough to get through all four years here, especially if you were in one of class years that lost a student. You survived EHS. It wasn’t easy, so don’t trivialize it. Celebrate it.
From Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
Oz: Take a moment to deal with this: we survived.
Buffy: It was a hell of a battle.
Oz: Not the battle. High school.