Freshmen Rate HSM (High School Media, That Is)

The “High School Musical” (HSM) era may have come to a close, but high school media is far from dying out. More than pure entertainment, it also affects the way incoming freshmen perceive LAHS.

But do those last few days of summer spent poring over Seventeen and brushing up on “Navigating High School 101” have any use? Four freshmen shared their observations comparing the media and reality.

“I thought that it would be more intimidating from shows that I’ve seen,” freshman Elizabeth Robertson said. “The movie ‘Mean Girls’ … had a whole bunch of, well, mean girls. I was afraid that some of the upperclassmen girls would be really kind of mean, but they’re not. They’re really nice.”

Freshman Jami Hsia also notes similarities between the show and LAHS.
“Some days when most people are in the hallway … and they’re by their locker, you can totally feel like their eyes are looking at you,” Jami said.

Besides seniority dominating the social pyramid, another media classic is the portrayal of cliques.

“You can definitely tell … those people are athletes, and those people are into studying all the time,” Elizabeth said.

It seems as if the popular cheerleaders and brawny jocks, clichéd as they may be, are constantly incorporated into media today. Whether it is Disney Channel’s “Lizzie McGuire” or “Gossip Girl,” the rich, beautiful people always have it all—and they aren’t too shy to flaunt it. As for the other end of the spectrum? “Napoleon Dynamite” explains it all—the thick glasses and high-waisted jeans are fashion faux pas. Unlike in shows, though, the three foot bubble that encompasses each clique is not always present at LAHS.

“People definitely mix,” Elizabeth said. “It’s not like if you’re not an athlete then you’re not cool.”

Freshman Kayhon Sazegari, who also has a sibling in high school, agrees that cliques exist at the school. However, he thinks the social circles here are less defined than the media portrays them to be.

“It’s not like we don’t like that group because they’re that group,” Kayhon said, noting that although cliques can be seen on campus, they are not exclusively closed off, and groups and students intermingle.

This does not, however, mean that social drama is reduced. Kayhon noticed that gossip still travels like wildfire among the freshmen on campus.

“You see all the homework and whatnot, [but] there’s more drama,” said Kayhon, who has seen instances on campus where people have been “hyped up” because of drama.

“Here it’s more like people worry about someone else’s drama, and then in the shows it’s more like ‘Ohmygod, my drama,’” said Kayhon, who recalls the movie “Saved by the Bell” and parts of the original “90210.”

On the other hand, freshman Izzy Jara’s main concerns, inspired by the movie “Napoleon Dynamite,” were bullies and their “name calling” and “put-downs.”

“I thought there’d be bullies [who‘d say],‘Give me your lunch money’ and stuff you in a locker and stuff like that,” Izzy said.

To Izzy’s surprise, harassment was not an issue. She related the school with the movie “Bratz,” noticing the similarities in the competitiveness of school sports.

On a high school spectrum ranging from the turmoil of the 1995 classic “Clueless” to 2006’s happy-go-lucky “High School Musical,” Elizabeth, Kayhon and Izzy all thought LAHS is most like HSM.

“We’re not breaking out into song, but our school is very spirited and we have pretty intense sports teams,” Elizabeth said. “In the movie, Gabriella’s really smart and she’s going out with the jock, and that happens at our school, too. …It’s more like everyone’s really excited to be here with all their friends.”