Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Where Did You Go to High School?

It's been said, all too much I might add, that the act of asking a person where they went to high school is a behavior uniquely St. Louisian. And, maybe it is. Although I really doubt it. It reminds me of the time when I used to think that the "you know what they say....if you don't like the weather in STL, just wait 5 minutes cause' it will change" was a STL statement. Then I moved to Texas and heard on their local news "you know what they say....if you don't like the weather in Austin........." I felt so gullible at that moment.

But, I digress.....So, the high school question has definitely come up a lot in my post secondary lifetime, but only in the context of a conversation something like this: "Me: A lot of kids in my high school smoked cigarettes. It wasn't a big deal. Other person in conversation: My school was like that too. Where did you go to high school?" That scenario is fairly ubiquitous. You ask because you're curious or maybe you're trying to find a commonality. But, I think, that the STL version of the question is usually posed as a way to learn about a person's class and/or socioeconomic status. Either way, it never meant much to me for a couple of reasons = #1 I don't put off a "talk-to-me" vibe in new social situations, #2 I'm not usually in new social situations, and #3 it seems to be irrelevant once you've hit a certain age.

But, having a kid that's entering pre-k in the fall means that school talk has entered the Henske vernacular. What's been so surprising during our researching and evaluating and visiting in the last year is how important it is to get your kid into the right school, right away. Well, at least that's how you're made to feel.....whether it's truly important is obviously debatable. But, seriously, parents of kids entering elementary school are already thinking about secondary schools! I thought that only happened on TV. Maybe on the Coasts or in big cities like Chicago, but never the Mid-West and never STL. So imagine my surprise to not only find it in STL but to also find myself getting sucked into all of that drama and competition. For example, I was cool when Willa was wait-listed for school choice #1. Lots of competition, very few spots. Wait-listed was actually expected. But, I was emotionally and intellectually devastated when she was also wait-listed for school choice #2. That was the safety school! What now? It was like, "Well, I guess the kid will just work in a glue factory." And, that mindset continued until we found out in early May that we made it off the wait list and were enrolled in school choice #2. Naturally, I'm happy but I've also had time to go back to what-does-it-matter-anyway thinking. Of course, I say that with the confidence of knowing that at least we got into school choice #2. But, does it really matter? I suppose that the answer to that question is somewhere in that great big gray area--the same place where you find most of the answers to life's little quandaries.

Willa enjoying the Dragon at St. Margaret's of Scotland School

1 comment:

Kathy G said...

Now that I'm at the other end of my kids' mandatory schooling, I've come to believe that parents make WAY too big of a deal out of the school choice thing (especially if you happen to be Catholic and want to send your child to a parochial school-but that's a whole other story).

A good chunk of a child's education comes from the parents, and I'm betting you do a GREAT job with your daughter! Glad Willa got into one of the schools you picked for her.

BTW-you said where you went to high school "seems to be irrelevant once you've hit a certain age." I was in a meeting last week and two women discovered they went to the same school (30 years ago). They started acting like they were STILL teenagers over it...