Monday, March 16, 2009

Ode to Teenagers (the good ones)

I will shamelessly admit I am a fan of High School Musical. While I confess I like cheesy storylines and pop music, I think I'm drawn to the movie for different reasons. It illustrates a high school experience completely different from my own, and that's a good thing.

There is no shortage of cute high school flicks, with generic geeky and popular clicks. Sometimes the popular group is mean, but still these movies don't capture what high school is really like. They leave out the constant flow of profanity in the hallways. What about the never ending waft of marijuana coming from the bathrooms? Occasionally a film or TV show will show the metal detectors at the doorways, but they don't illustrate the regular violent scenes that forced the school administration to install them. What I saw growing up, were little girls, ages 14, 15, and 16, wearing skimpy, tight, and revealing clothing. I wish I could forget the nauseating displays of much-too-public affection in every corner. Now add hormones, insecurity, low self esteem, and make the halls more than a bit overcrowded with awkward bodies. The supposed role models that were my teachers and administrators spent more time teaching about "personal expression", "free speech", and "self discovery" than history and literature. Books with high morals were taken out the school library for fear of "offending". Required reading often contained language and scenes most of the students couldn't legally view in movies without a fake ID. What about Prom night, when the kids are dressed up and supposedly displaying better behavior? The girls came dressed in trashy, too short gowns, showing off their much too young, not-quite-adult bodies. There weren't sweet and romantic slow songs. The kids were bored by those. They demanded from the DJ fast trashy tunes so they could try out the latest dirty dance move they saw on a rap music video. Not a recipe for positive growth, or "best time of your life" experiences. Some of you may think I'm describing some scary inner city school. I'm not. I'm describing what I and 2,000 other students saw everyday in the 3rd richest county in the United States. And that was what it looked like 10 years ago. I can only imagine what the high school experience has become now.

Yet still, amongst all the sleaze, there were and still are boys and girls who refuse to join in. They too are tempted to use profanity when they're frustrated, embarrassed, or angry. But they don't. They have the same awkward bodies as their peers, but keep them covered, and treat them with respect. The same powerful hormones pull them towards the opposite sex, but they keep their feelings in check enough to control their actions. Instead of making fun of others in an attempt look better, they avoid gossip, and encourage their friends to make good decisions. They don't know the taste of beer, and have no idea how much cigarettes cost. No one even invites them to parties with alcohol and drugs, and they're grateful for that. After school hours for these few are filled with practicing sports and musical instruments, volunteer work, service projects, and regular studying for classes. They don't know who they are any more than the other kids. But they know who they want to be, and they make their decisions accordingly. They are often lonely, and rarely respected or praised for this continuous battle they fight everyday. Their drive to live better comes from great faith in God, and their strength is fueled by loving parents and family. They are happy, and everyone can see it. If they are remembered in any way among their peers, it's how they were positive, uplifting, and cheerful.

Here's to those boys and girls who made it through those horrible 4 years unscathed. You may have felt lonely then, but you definitely weren't and are not alone. And to those still living the nightmare, stay true to your faith, and never forget who you really want to be after graduation. Because much to the disappointment of those who in some twisted way hope high school will last forever, it doesn't.


  1. Good for you Liz. I am glad that someone has taken the time to pay some respect to the few YM and YW who know where they want to go with their lives.I know that our youth put up with a lot everyday and they would love to hear from someone other then us leaders how much we know what they are going through. WTG sista. Hey are up for Sat. Afternoon? Haven't heard