High School Halls: Your Best Memory

Welcome to the last installment of my High School Halls series on this Deep-Fried Friday For this series, I’ve looked at high school then (when I was a teen in the ’80s) and high school now. If you want to check out any of these posts, click on the High School Halls tab on the menu bar.

Today’s subject is your best high school memory. I asked friends on Twitter and Facebook the opportunity to share their memories with me.

Here is a sampling:

Alica McKenna Johnson: This boy, Marc, came up to me in chem and said, ‘Alica if you ever want to date a real man let me know.’ I blinked and said, ‘do you know any real men?’ All the other girls were cracking up and the guys were snickering. It was great. Most of the time I think of great comebacks hours later, but I was in the zone. Lol.

Erin Brambilla: I loved competitions. We had them every Saturday during marching season. There’s something so fun about performing in front of a crowd (all there to appreciate band and not football ). And if I had to pinpoint one specific favorite band memory–it was probably when two of the older girls in band came up to me my sophomore year and told me I should try out for drum major. I probably wouldn’t have done it, but they said they thought I’d be good at it. So I tried out and I got it! And then I’d say telling my dad about getting the position was pretty awesome, too. I think he was just as excited as I was.

Donna GalantiProbably all the tricks I played on the nuns and skipping class.

Laura KreitzerLeaving!

Amber West I was an assistant to a first year teacher my Senior year. Lots of interesting memories from that one. 

Virginia Lori JenningsI was home-schooled… My favorite ‘high school memory’ is taking the pretest for the GED just to have the lady look at me with shock and awe when I turned in the math test so fast and then to tell me I scored higher than any of the other pretests she has seen in math. My look was of confused amazement…. Math is my weakest subject-> how bad is everyone else at math! 

Tiffany A. White:  It’s kinda sad, but the night we lost to our big football rivals our senior year. The players and trainers had grown so close over the previous three years, and that night our bonds showed. We sat in the weight room after the game, still in our game attire, and cried and hugged. It was one of the sweetest moments, even if we were all devastated.

August McLaughlinI had senioritis from sophomore year on, but adored all things music, writing and theater. Saving graces!

IJ VernSkipping classes to go play pool.

Christine Ashworth: Graduating. I never felt like I belonged in high school.

Catie RhodesGraduating? Never going back? LOL.

As for my best high school memories, they are mostly small incidents with friends–an encouraging comment, a fun evening out, a band or choir trip experience. One event, though, stands out for me–my senior prom. Here’s why:

  1. I didn’t go with anyone. I could have gotten a date, but I made the conscious decision to go alone and be the captain of my evening. I wore what I wanted, arrived when I wanted, danced as I wanted, left when I wanted. I treasure that choice because it demonstrated that I had finally realized that I could be happy without a relationship, that being me was far more important than being with anyone.
  2. My mother made my dress. She’s a talented seamstress, and in this case, dress designer. We talked about what I wanted, and she figured out how to make it. My dress was mirrored after Anita’s party dress from West Side Story, one of my favorite musicals.
  3. My father bought my corsage. Actually, it was a nosegay. However, I felt particularly special and loved when my dad presented me with a small bouquet of flowers that he had carefully chosen for my night. I knew in that moment that daddies love their daughters far more than any stinky ol’ high school boy could (unless, of course, that high school sweetheart ended up as your husband).
  4. I won Best Singer senior superlative. Among the Most Likely to Succeed and Best Couple awards was also girl and boy “Best Singer.” Although I was in choir, I had absolutely no anticipation that I would receive the award. It caught me off guard, in a tingle-to-my-toes kind of way.
  5. I spent the evening with good friends. I had a close group of friends and found plenty of guys to dance with. We chatted, laughed, and danced the night away. And my lovely girlfriends loaned me their dates when it came picture time. I have had great fun with this prom photo over the years, claiming that I had three dates instead of none.
My friends’ dates and ME
Senior Prom 1986

Perhaps that was foreshadowing of my current novel–SHARING HUNTER–in which Hunter Mills ends up at senior prom with two dates. I’m excited about this work in progress and love writing for teens.

Happy high school memories!

If you didn’t get a chance to share your best high school memory, please do so! What did/do you love/hate about the high school years?

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High School Halls: Moving the Tassel, Throwing the Hat

We’re coming to the end of the year and the end of my High School Halls series, in which I’ve looked at how high school was when I was growing up (in the 1980’s) and how the experience is today.

So welcome to Deep-Fried Friday. Next week, we’ll celebrate a little, but first we have to cross the stage and get our diploma.

That Was Then

I graduated in May 1986 with 212 fellow seniors from Calallen High School in Corpus Christi, Texas. There were several necessary components to the graduation experience. I’ll cover them in turn.

Senior Pictures. For grades 9 through 11, the yearbook published a black-and-white photo for each student. But for senior year, photographs looked far more professional and were printed in color. Those who didn’t like the picture from the school photographer, or those who wanted something different, had their own senior pictures taken. Here’s mine.

senior pic
Good gravy, I look so young!

Class Ring. Many seniors chose to get a ring with Class of 1986. The ring company came to school, made the pitch, and presented options. Rings were customized, money was spent, and students showed off their new jewelry with pride. Practical gal that I was, I passed. Never got a class ring–in high school or college.

grad announcementGraduation Announcement. The graduation announcements were all the same, with the same stilted language and the same fancy script. What we seniors each got to do was to add the little card with our name on it and then tuck the announcements into envelopes and mail them to people who cared. Or at least people we thought might give us something for finishing school.

Cap and Gown. To this day, I do not understand the fashion choice of paper-thin gowns and flat cardboard caps. Who looks good in that hat? I remember paying attention to what dress I would wear underneath, but that didn’t really matter. I was dressed like everyone else–in a maroon gown with a square plate on my head.

Pomp and Circumstance. That song goes on forever. At least it did at my graduation. Sir Edward Elgar, an English composer, wrote a series of Pomp and Circumstance marches, the first of which is used as the traditional graduation song. Its slow cadence and steady snare drum rhythm make it an appropriate song for the long ceremony that will follow.

Speeches. Traditionally, the valedictorian and salutatorian of the senior class are given the opportunity to speak to their fellow students. I did not say a word. I also have no idea what our female valedictorian or male salutatorian said, although I was friends with both of them from Honors English classes. I’m sure it was uplifting, forward-thinking, and profound.

Diploma. It’s just a certificate, but somehow having that diploma in hand is a wonderful feeling. However, at the graduation ceremony, all you get is a piece of parchment paper rolled up and secured with a ribbon. It’s a fake, and your real one won’t arrive until later.

Proud Family. Whether your parents were unsure if you’d ever get through school or whether you breezed through your four years, you hopefully had a proud parent or two hanging out to hear your name called. Some families were rather obnoxious, quite frankly, when their loved one was announced and they erupted into cheers like their child had won the Heisman or an Oscar. Others shed tears before, during, or after the ceremony. Still others got a pat on the back or a punch in the arm. It all counts as pride.

Celebration with Friends. Hopefully, you had a friend or two or twenty to share the excitement of finally finishing your thirteen years of primary and secondary schooling. I remember gathering with my friends–all of us wearing big smiles and 80’s hair. We didn’t break out into a chorus of We Go Together, but it was a fun moment nonetheless.

Grad w friends

One more thought on my graduation: Looking through my mementos, I saw that I led the school song with another student. I have no recall of that. It was nice to see my name on the program, though!

This Is Now

I did a little online research and interviewed a good friend who is approaching graduation with her teenager. According to my friend, graduation preparation now happens earlier and bigger. It’s the same as our graduation, “but on steroids.” Indeed, she estimated that the total cost of all of the graduation activities and swag for her daughter would likely land somewhere around $2,000. Ouch.

Senior Pictures. This is big industry now. Not only are teens getting head shots, photographers now have graduation-themed props, several scenes and wardrobe changes, and packages easily ranging in the hundreds. The cheapest photo package at my friend’s school was $229…and that is from the school-scheduled photographer. Unless you can also use your photos to get a modeling gig, this seems like a lot of money to me.

Class Ring. We ordered class rings maybe between junior and senior year, but now senior rings are offered in the junior year. It makes sense to wear them longer, but it also means that you start paying for graduation long before you ever finish classes.

Graduation Announcement. There is the standard school announcement but you can add to that design, with photos or other flair. Unfortunately, you will still have to load and lick your own envelopes.

Cap and Gown. I’m advocating right now that we stop the madness and not require future teens to wear the flat hat. How about no hat? So far, however, the cap and gown remain a part of the graduation experience. Yet the fabric has improved. The material seems to be sturdier–although I don’t know why. You’ll only wear that gown once.

Pomp and Circumstance. No dubstep version yet. Stay tuned.

Speeches. Love to Know Teens gives sample topics for graduation speeches. Their suggestions? “How We’ll Measure These Years,” “The Future Is in Our Hands,” and “A Debt of Gratitude.” But really, once the administrator passes over the microphone, they’ve lost say in what happens next. It’s a fascinating high school tradition that the teachers turn over the mic to students and let them say (or sing) whatever.

Diploma. Whether your class has 30 people or 300, commencement still includes the calling of each name and the student crossing the stage to shake an administrator’s hand and grab a diploma. But be careful, your real diploma can be denied if you misbehave at the commencement ceremony. Check out some of the headlines I found while researching:

Oklahoma High School Valedictorian Denied Diploma for Using “Hell” in Speech

Cheering at Graduation Leads to Arrest, Diplomas Denied

Teen Denied Diploma after Tebow-ing

Denial for misbehavior is usually temporary, contingent on an apology or penance of some sort. But still, don’t you want to grab that certificate and go when you’re done?

Proud Family. Some things don’t change. In fact, for those families who are spending up to $2k or beyond to graduate their kids, seeing the senior walk across the stage should evoke a thrill or at least a huge sigh of relief. If you are graduating, just get ready for your parents and family members to smile or cry a lot. It goes with the territory.

Celebration with Friends. Going with the bigger theme these days, some teenagers really invest in the big night. They may enjoy a night on the town, rent a condo on the beach, or take a vacation with friends to celebrate the end of the high school era. As usual, be responsible, however you choose to entertain yourselves. This time is also the beginning of a new–and hopefully wonderful–era.

What do you remember about high school graduation? What are graduations like now? How have things changed or stayed the same?

High School Halls: The Soundtrack of Our Teens

Welcome to another High School Halls post on Deep-Fried Friday. I’ve been taking an extended look at aspects of the high school years, both then (when I attended in the 80’s) and now.

Today’s topic is a fun one: Music.

Of course, what you experience in any generation of music depends on what you listen to. Are you a country music fan? A punk rocker? A folk follower? Do you turn your radio to pop, rap, or R&B? If I ask two different kids what music characterized their teenage years, their soundtracks would be different.

But certain songs carry weight in the moment and in our memories. Certain music artists connect with what we feel and experience. Certain tunes or lyrics can spark a visceral reaction.

I’ll be covering music from my teens, but I’m a bit lost on the current music scene. Thankfully, Gavin, teenage son of YA author Coleen Patrick, agreed to let me interview him on today’s music scene. First, me . . .

That Was Then

What trends characterized my teen years?

Hard rock/heavy metal became mainstream with bands like: Black Sabbath, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Guns & Roses, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Metallica, Motley Crue, Pat Benatar, Van Halen, and Whitesnake.

Guns N Roses
Guns N Roses

Rap music took hold with artists like: Beastie Boys, Big Daddy Kane, Ice T, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Queen Latifah, and Run D.M.C.

New wave became the music of nightclubs and videos with the likes of: The B-52’s, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Devo, Duran Duran, Erasure, Eurythmics, Flock of Seagulls, Talking Heads, and Yaz.

Soft rock singers included: Air Supply, Alan Parsons Project, Chris Isaak, Christopher Cross, Peter Cetera (Chicago), Lionel Richie, and Whitney Houston.

Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston

Rock-n-roll in its basic form was brought back by artists like: Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, Huey Lewis & the News, John Mellencamp, and Steve Winwood.

And then there were general Pop artists like: Cyndi Lauper, Elton John, The Go-Go’s, The Police, Prince, and U2.

Looking at the mainstream pop world, I think three M’s deserve a spotlight: Michael, Madonna, and MTV. They are intertwined, of course, because Madonna and Michael Jackson likely wouldn’t have experienced their vast success and become the King and Queen of 80’s Pop without being able to show their dance moves, their fashion, and their creativity.

Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson

MTV launched in August 1981 and, in my opinion, set the tone for the whole decade. Suddenly, we could see the music artists–not just a photo on an album cover or in a magazine, or those few who attended a concert. The masses saw them perform, in whatever way they wished to present their songs.

The top-selling artists of the decade, however, didn’t all have choreographers. Here are the top 10 by most #1 songs:

Steve Wonder (4)
Prince (4)
Bon Jovi (4)
Lionel Richie (5)
George Michael (5)
Hall & Oates (5)
Whitney Houston (7)
Phil Collins (7)
Madonna (7)
Michael Jackson (9)

Who were my favorites? What was my soundtrack? Well, my music taste ran the gamut (and still does). I liked everything from Janet Jackson to Rick Springfield to Rush (all concerts I attended). I never got into rap music, though. And I spent some of that decade discovering artists like the Beach Boys, the Beatles, David Bowie, Harry Belafonte (saw him in concert too), Fleetwood Mac, Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, and Led Zeppelin.

Maybe my taste is best seen by which 80’s artists I have music from. In my CD collection, you’ll find Kate Bush, Janet Jackson, John Mellencamp, Journey, Huey Lewis & the News, Peter Gabriel, Steve Winwood, and Yes. However, I really miss the cassettes I once owned of Genesis, ‘Til Tuesday, Robert Palmer, and Rush.

I also attended concerts by the following 80’s artists: Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis & the News, Janet Jackson (twice), Rod Stewart, Rush, Tina Turner, and Yes. I know I’m missing a couple, but memory fails.

This Is Now

G sings
Gavin, our teen music expert

Gavin has eclectic taste and a music background. He participates in chorus, an acapella group, and the music production club at school. He also plays the piano.

Welcome, Gavin! What trends do you see in music for teens today? What music styles are popular?

Pop with electro-dance influences, like dubstep which was very popular last year. Indie music with folk influences, like Mumford & Sons.

I had to look up “dubstep.” Good to  know.

How do most teens listen to music? What are their sources for trying out a new artist or listening to their favorites?

I listen to music using my iPod or YouTube. Spotify is another popular app for listening to music. Pandora is good for discovering new music too.

Do teenagers still attend concerts regularly? Why or why not?

Yes. Even though music is very accessible these days, you can’t recreate the live experience.

I agree. Have YouTube and shows like American Idol, The Voice, and The X Factor affected today’s music? Do they seem to matter to teens?

YouTube for sure. In my opinion, TV hasn’t made big impact on teens.

Who are your own favorites? What music or artists would you put in the soundtrack to your teen years?

My favorites right now are Michael Buble and Frank Sinatra. It’s kind of unusual but I’ve been into jazz for the past year and I like to sing that type of music. Some of the artists that I listened to over the last couple of years include Red, Dead Poetic, Chevelle, Bare Noize, The Avett Brothers, Ben Kweller, and Story of the Year.

Thanks so much, Gavin! I enjoy Michael Buble and Frank Sinatra. I didn’t know anyone else! Guess I’ve been living under a rock or listening to my old music too much. (Okay, yeah, today I listened to The Best of Pat Benatar. *shrug*)

Just in case my readers are not aware either, here are a couple of songs from artists Gavin named–Chevelle and Story of the Year.

If you have any idea what this song means, let me know.

Liked everything but the screaming. (Does that make me old?)

Now it’s your turn! What would the soundtrack to your teen years include?

Sources: Billboard, Rolling Stone, Rotten Tomatoes, Rapworld, Like Totally 80s, Yahoo-Top Twenty New Wave Bands-Part 1, Yahoo-Top Twenty New Wave Bands-Part 2, Yahoo-Ultimate 80s Soft Rock Playlist, Nostalgia Cafe

High School Halls: The Hairstyles

I’m back on a Deep-Fried Friday with another installment in my High School Halls series. I’m taking a look at the teenage years back when I experienced them and now.

Lori FreelandA few weeks ago, I covered the fashion trends, but I stated that hair would need its own post. Today young adult author Lori Freeland joins me to talk about hairstyles, then and now. I recently met Lori at a Margie Lawson workshop hosted by the Houston Writers Guild. She’s even more delightful in person (and has beautiful hair).

Welcome, Lori! So thrilled to have you here.

Thanks for asking me! We went to high school at the same time, so this should be fun.

That Was Then

Flock of Seagulls. Yep, that’s where I want to start. Because when I think about all of the crazy hairdos of the 1980s when I was in high school, this is the picture that comes to mind:

Can you explain this? What were we thinking?

Were we trying to mix genders? Or maybe switch them? Not sure.  I do know my boyfriend at the time, who’s now my husband, liked the Duran Duran look.

https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/81/DuranDuran_UK_PressKit_1981.jpg

What hairdos were popular when you were in high school? Did they have anything in common?

Big hair. I had a tight perm than I teased the crap out of it. I do have to say, my best hair? Eighties big when the perm had grown out halfway.

Lori big hair

Do any celebrity hairstyles stand out as getting a lot of attention back then?

Madonna was hot when I was in high school. Whatever she did, we did. The high side ponytail comes to mind. Along with the mandatory leg warmers. Not sayin’ I ever sported either.

Lori side ponytail
*slightly embarrassed grin*

What was your usual hairstyle? Did you do ever anything unusual with your hair?

Big and bold. I had Texas hair in Wisconsin. In the picture of me in the red dress, there’s more hair than girl!

Lori red dress

What hairstyle tools were imperative for a teenager living in the 1980s? What did we need to get the right look?

Like a said, a perm provided a great foundation. Add a sturdy comb for teasing and a huge bottle of extra-hold Aqua Net. A curling iron and hot rollers always sat on my bathroom counter.

My hair is too fine and too straight, so I could never achieve the big hair look. Perms fell out in less than a month! Here’s one of my 80’s looks–not very “in,” I’m sure.

10th grade

This Is Now

I have noticed that girls aren’t getting perms these days; they are straightening their hair instead. What do you notice most about hairstyles today versus the hairstyles of our past?

We definitely went from one extreme to the other—super high to super sleek. Although neither look is wash-and-wear. We use flat irons now in place of hot rollers and perms.

Yeah, you know Selena's hair got flat-ironed here.
Yeah, you know Selena’s hair got flat-ironed here.

What about the guys versus the girls? What characterizes their hairstyles?

There will always be the guys that keep their hair long and I have to say, some of those guys are hot. But gone are the feathery styles and mullets. Girls are wearing their hair more “guy short” these days and the crop looks great—on some girls. I will never be a short hair girl. I think guy hair runs the gamut from sport short to boy band long.

What current celebrities inspire teens’ hairstyles?

I think whatever is popular in Hollywood and on the cover of People magazine eventually trickles down. Everything from royalty and Princess Kate to pop and Pink. There are so many choices and bold seems to rock.

Princess Kate
Princess Kate
Pink (pic by Corbuzon, Wikimedia Commons)
Pink (pic by Corbuzon, Wikimedia Commons)

What hairstyle tools should a teenager have in his/her bathroom cabinet today? What do they need to get the right look?

I’ve moved on from Aqua Net, but I do still own a bottle of pump hairspray and a set of hot rollers. The rollers mostly live under my sink but some days they emerge. Tools now are wide-tooth combs, diffusers, bed head type products, and of course the flat iron.

https://i0.wp.com/www.irmatpharmacy.com/images/bedhead-sm.gif

Thanks for coming by, Lori! Maybe someday you can show me how to get the proper tease going. 🙂

Wild at Heart Volume 2Lori Freeland is a Young Adult author that lives in the Dallas area. In addition to being addicted to flavored coffee with just the right amount of cream, she’s a little obsessed with imaginary people.

Lori’s short story, “Refugee” can be found in the Wild at Heart, Volume II, anthology for young adults.

What do you remember from hairstyles in high school? What are high schoolers sporting today? What grooming tools are a must for your look?

High School Halls: Dating, Young Love, and Breaking Up

Teen Love
Remember Me (2010)

Welcome to Deep-Fried Friday and my High School Halls series. Today, I’m thrilled to welcome a guest to my blog to discuss high school dating, young love, and breaking up. Lydia Sharp is the author of the young adult romantic comedy novella, TWIN SENSE, now out from Musa Publishing’s Euterpe Imprint.

So Lydia, let’s talk about our young love first and then how things are today.

Parents often set rules for their kids dating. For me, I had to be sixteen years old, the guy had to call (because I wasn’t allowed to call boys unless they were at boyfriend status), and I had a curfew. What rules, if any, did you have for dating in high school?

My parents’ dating rules were very simple: don’t do it! Of course, I rebelled against that one, and I still think it was a stupid rule. Telling a teenager they aren’t allowed to be social and fall in love is like telling water it isn’t allowed to be wet.

Did you date a lot in high school? Or perhaps have a single long love during those teenage years?

No, I wouldn’t say I dated “a lot.” I was very very shy. But even so, boys were always giving me attention (which was not always a good thing, but we won’t discuss that today). When I was a sophomore, I met a guy who I still refer to as “my first love.” Unfortunately, I started seeing him at the same time I was dating someone else. He was “the other guy,” if you know what I mean. But we had to keep it secret and that was hard. Oh and did I mention the two of them were friends? That’s how we met, actually, we were all in the same circle of friends. I know, it sounds like something straight out of a YA rom-com. This stuff really happens!

Then in the middle of that school year my family moved away and the long-distance thing was even harder than keeping us a secret. We went from seeing each other every day at school to never seeing each other at all. I found out, through him and a few other close friends, that my boyfriend was with someone new only a week after I’d left. “The other guy” kept in contact through letters and phone calls (this was in the 90s; email was still new and texting didn’t exist) but we drifted apart, and after high school we both married other people. I’m not sorry for this, though. I love my husband more than I ever loved “the other guy.”

Do you remember your first kiss? What was wonderful or awful about that first kiss?

First kiss
Hunger Games (2012)

If you mean my first kiss ever, there isn’t much to tell. I was seven years old and did it on a dare. The boy in question ran away immediately afterwards. But if you mean my first *real* kiss, then…

Yes, I remember. It was very awkward. I didn’t know how to hold my head, or where to put my lips, or how much pressure to apply, and then there’s the whole tongue issue. I also felt like my nose was always getting in the way. I have a big Italian nose, but if my ancestors could kiss then darnit so could I. There’s so much to worry about, you can’t really enjoy it. But fortunately, most people get better with practice (same goes for sex). And even though it’s awkward and not as good as subsequent kisses, the thrill of a first kiss is almost wonderful enough to outweigh all of that. Almost.

A typical date was dinner and a movie, but sometimes a guy would get creative. Do you have any particularly memorable dating experiences from high school?

I never had the typical “dinner and a movie” date until after high school when I started dating my husband. During high school we mostly did stuff in groups. Not necessarily parties, just groups of about four or more. If we had the chance to sneak off alone, we would, but we couldn’t do much in the way of “going out places” because none of us had any money. We would go bowling (it’s cheap!) or hang out at a pool hall (also cheap!) or just crash at someone’s house (the cheapest of all!). We always had fun, but there is nothing really memorable about this. It’s just the way it was.

Sometimes young love is brushed off as being less important than adult love, but young hearts are passionate. And they break when a relationship comes to an end. Tell a story of how your best or worst handling of a break-up.

Let’s rewind back to when I was dating a guy and seeing his friend at the same time… when I found out he was with someone else almost immediately after I moved away, without so much as a phone call to tell me this himself, yeah, that hurt, even though I never truly loved him. There were times when I thought I loved him, though, and we did have a lot of fun together. We shared a lot of the same interests. He’d even given me a promise ring, and written me a goodbye poem that brought him to tears when he read it to me. I thought he loved me, so when I found out he didn’t, it was brutal.

I cried a lot, which also made me feel guilty because I was still keeping in regular contact with “the other guy.” Confusion, guilt, misery, and falling in love with someone else at the same time, do not make for a good emotional mix. On top of that, I was at a new school and extremely shy. I made no real friends until the following school year.

This was a very dark time for me, and I was only fifteen. So yeah, it does upset me when I hear adults say that teenagers are being overly dramatic when they get upset over a breakup. They obviously don’t remember or just never experienced it for themselves, but that doesn’t make it untrue.

Your own book is about dating, young love, and break-ups. Who are the main players in TWIN SENSE, and how is their world thrown off balance?

The four main characters are Kevin and Keith (identical twin brothers), and Layna and Sherri (the twins’ girlfriends). Layna is the main character; the story is told through her eyes and mind. Early on, Sherri breaks up with Keith, and Kevin tries to get closer to Layna by giving her a promise ring. Shortly afterward, Layna and Sherri start spending more time together and develop feelings for each other, so now Layna is torn between affections and both choices seem good. It’s a tough spot to be in.

There are also some other things in the story that directly relate to high school dating, and how ridiculous social expectations can be. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, though.

How did you get into the head of a teenager and how he/she would feel as their relationships change?

I do my best to draw on my own experiences and feelings from that time of life, and combine that with what I see in teens today. The rest is an unexplainable magic.

Why do you enjoy writing about young adult romance? What’s special about that time with romantic relationships?

Everything about being a teen is thrilling. You’re not really a kid anymore, and you’re still trying to figure out how to be an adult. Your hormones are on crack, but romance isn’t your only passion. You have plans to change the world because you’re still young enough to have the time and energy required to make it happen. You dream a lot. You fantasize. You’re scared and nervous one second, bold and courageous the next.

But my favorite thing is that the teen years can be where you experience real love for the first time. You will remember your first love for the rest of your life, even if you don’t stay together into adulthood. That person carries a piece of your heart with them forever, and you carry a piece of theirs. It’s a huge, delicate privilege, not to be taken lightly. And there are so many different ways people can find each other and fall in love, despite their relationship being tested. I just love creating stories that allow readers to enjoy that experience over and over and over again.

Thanks so much to Lydia Sharp for talking with us about dating, young love, and breaking up. Check out her book and share about your teen dating days in the comments!

Twin Sense: As girlfriends of the Taylor twins, Layna and Sherri have only been friends by association. But when Sherri breaks up with Keith (for real this time), and Kevin gives Layna a promise ring (whoa, what?), Layna’s whole world spins off balance. She avoids Kevin’s unwelcome pressure to commit by spending more time with Sherri.

Without the twins around, Layna and Sherri are tempted to go beyond friendship status. Then Keith tries to win Sherri back, and Kevin apologizes for rushing Layna. Now she’s stuck inside a double-trouble love quadrangle that has her reaching for the consolation cheesecake. The only way to sort out this mess is to make an impossible choice—between the one she wants and the other one she wants—or she might end up with no one.

Lydia Sharp is a novelist and short fiction author who grew up on the shores of Lake Erie. Then she got tired of finding sand in her clothes so she moved further inland, but she’ll always call Ohio home. Laughing is her favorite pastime. Kissing is a close second.

For Lydia’s published and upcoming fiction, click HERE.

Lydia is also a regular contributor to the Write It Sideways blog and the award-winning Writer Unboxed blog.

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High School Halls: Holidays

I’ve been looking at high school then and now with my High School Halls series here on Deep-Fried Friday. Since it’s Thanksgiving week and students are almost all out for a holiday break, I thought I’d look at holidays today.

Also, since you’re on holiday, I decided to make this brief and just give y’all a quick reference chart.

That Was Then This Is Now What’s Changed
Labor Day Labor Day Not much. Some schools start in August and get this holiday, and other schools don’t start until after Labor Day.
Columbus Day Teacher In-service Day Columbus goes from hero to plunderer in the history books, so we rename it. But teachers still need a break from students after only one month with them.
Thanksgiving Holidays Thanksgiving Holidays 2 to 2½ days becomes 3 days to a full week. Preparing the turkey dinner or planning your Black Friday strategy takes time.
Christmas Holidays Winter Break Keeping the name neutral, most people still purchase trees and make Santa lists.
  Martin Luther King Day The man with a fabulous dream is recognized as a national civil rights hero.
Washington’s and Lincoln’s Birthdays Presidents’ Day Perhaps the other 40+ presidents felt left out.
Spring Break Spring Break As far as I can tell, nothing’s changed here. Don’t mess with a good thing!
Good Friday Spring Holiday This holiday shifts around in March/April as it is set according to the Jewish calendar. It was originally a Catholic holiday commemorating the death of Jesus. Sunday is either the day Christ rose and/or the day the Bunny delivers chocolate.
Memorial Day Memorial Day A day to honor soldiers, whether they were World War II and Vietnam soldiers in my teens or casualties of more recent wars in Middle East now.
Summer Vacation Summer Vacation Except for those of you who are in year-round school, in which case this whole chart is wrong.

My district also let out for three days in January for the livestock show and rodeo. I was tempted to list that, but I’m guessing few schools follow suit. Our school simply had too many students involved in FFA and FHA to hold classes. What did the rest of us non-rodeoers do during those three days? Why, we went to the livestock show, of course!

So what holidays did/does your school honor with a holiday break? Do you have any suggestions for changes to your school’s schedule? What holidays do you wish schools would acknowledge?

High School Halls: What If High School Sucks

Throughout this High School Halls series on Deep-Fried Friday, I’ve waxed nostalgic about various topics like fashion, school spirit, football, friendship, and dances. However, plenty of you have shared that high school was not an exciting time for you. These were not your glory days. You lived under the radar or rebelled against the system. You wouldn’t want to go back for anything, and you’re glad you’re out.

Yeah, it’s true. For some people, high school sucks.

If it didn’t suck sometimes, young adult authors wouldn’t have nearly so much to write about or readers who could relate to a main character’s struggles.

For myself, I didn’t hate high school. It was fine. But when I graduated, I was done. I didn’t look back. I moved on. In fact, I was MIA from the reunion committee for almost 20 years. I had a mixture of good and bad, and my future looked better so I put my focus there.

Twenty years later, I discovered that my high school friends are worth keeping up with, but I covered that in the post about my high school reunion.

So what do you do when high school sucks?

If high school already happened, you probably pushed it to the side of your memory. Tried to forget about the loneliness or the hurt or the feelings that you didn’t fit in or the desire to study at your own pace or the sense that none of this mattered anyway. You started marking time when you got out of high school or sometime after that–when your life was in your own hands and you could make it what you wanted.

Some people harbor feelings of hurt and resentment about things that happened in high school. Perhaps they were the victim of bullying or taunting, or the carrier of a broken heart from unrequited teenage love, or the teen who was woefully underestimated by staff and students alike. Those feelings can follow you into the future. Frank Peretti wrote a book titled The Wounded Spirit which friends have recommended for those who still carry pain from their past.

But what if you’re smack dab in the midst of the misery? What then?

Define yourself. I’m repeating this point that I found on a funny video called How to Survive High School (yes, it’s worth a click). But it is true. Whether you are popular or a misfit, the people that seem to have fared best in the long run are those who didn’t have regrets about who they were. They figured out their identity not as a negative reaction to others around them or to cliques that invited them in or family or teacher expectations; they had a sense of self based on what they were good at, what they enjoyed, what interested them, and what made them unique.

Discover friends. You don’t need a whole posse, but you should have friends. If you’re struggling in that area, expand your sights. Believe me, there is someone else at your school who would like to befriend you. Get involved in an extra-curricular activity (most schools have numerous sports and clubs) to find friends with similar interests or look for the loner at the lunch table. You might not hit it off, but you might. I met one of my best college friends when I forgot to bring my pen to an essay test and borrowed one from her. Small thing . . . one conversation led to another . . . still friends.

Develop yourself. Yes, you have to take English and math and history, etc. But you should have a little wiggle room in your schedule to find a class or activity that develops your talents. You’ll fare better at school if you have something to look forward to–your drama class, the tennis tournaments, yearbook staff, student council, etc. Even if your thing is jamming in your basement with an electric guitar or drawing anime comics, look for opportunities to use those talents at school. If you don’t know where to start, find your favorite teacher or the school counselor and start asking questions. You’re in high school anyway; you might as well use the time to get good at something you might do for work or a hobby someday.

Defend yourself. No one should accept bullying. If you or a teenager you know is being cruelly attacked, speak up. You should not spend your high school years dodging physical or verbal blows from other students (or even a teacher). Be an advocate for yourself and for others. You may need to get people in authority (parent, teacher, school staff) involved. But don’t spend another day in fear or plotting revenge; just stand up for yourself.

Note: After I published this post, I found Lisa Hall-Wilson’s post on Bullying: The New Dynamic. It’s a good look at bullying then and now.
 

Disarm yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in how much things suck and become overwhelmed and sink deeper and deeper into the abyss of angst. Don’t do that. Disarm yourself with humor and perspective. Lighten up. Whatever seems so awful likely isn’t the end of the world. This is four years of your life and, while those years may seem like forever, they aren’t. Find ways to amuse yourself. Be charming. Be funny. Be optimistic. Some of the best comedians came from terrible circumstances; they learned to weather difficulty through humor. You can try it yourself and see how it works.

What if high school still sucks?

It might. But if you survive intact–knowing who you are, what you’re good at, and with a friend or two, you’ll be okay. Memories do fade, and you can create newer, better ones. Some people who hated high school are living pretty fabulous lives now.

How about you? Did/does high school suck? What did you do to get through? What advice would you give for surviving high school when it’s not all it should be?

High School Halls: Under the Disco Ball: School Dances

Turn down the lights and let the disco ball turn. It’s time for a school-sponsored dance on Deep-Fried Friday as part of my High School Halls series.

First, let’s all pause and wish that our high school dance had been like this:

I don’t remember dancing like that at any of ours.

That Was Then

My school had two major dances: Winter Ball and Junior/Senior Prom. If memory serves, I went to all of them. The Winter Ball was a semi-formal affair held at the campus. Guys wore suits or slacks and ties, while girls wore nice dresses–the kind of thing you might wear to a play or even church.

Prom was available only to juniors and seniors and their dates. It was held off site at a hotel ballroom, usually in downtown Corpus Christi near the bay. Guys wore tuxes, and girls wore formals.

The nights were themed, although the only one I remember is my senior prom which was simply called Caribbean Nights. (I loved the homecoming theme in Tiffany A. White’s Football Sweetheart. No, I’m not revealing it; you must read for yourself!)

At both dances, we had a DJ. The music was mostly contemporary, with some classics thrown in. We danced as couples, groups, and in line dances. I’m pretty sure The Cotton-Eyed Joe featured at every school dance, but as I’ve talked about before, that may be just a Texas phenomenon. I also vividly recall dancing the Schottische at my senior prom.

Here are a few pics of my dance days. Since I didn’t ask permission, I chose not to reveal my dates.

Sophomore Winter Ball
Sophomore Prom (with a Junior)
Junior Prom

Not exactly the cocktail dress from Pretty Woman, you know? Or even Molly Ringwald’s homemade dress design from Pretty in Pink. But they were reasonably fashionable for the 1980s.

This Is Now

Dances still abound. There are Homecoming dances, winter balls, spring formals, and graduation dances. I suppose teens will always want to dress up and strut their stuff onto a dance floor. They will always gyrate and shimmy under the disco ball and then fold themselves into a deep embrace for a slow song.

The general notion is the same, whether in the 1950s, the 1980s, or today. However, the appearance has changed.

Gone is the church dress look. Now it’s cocktail dresses and long formals all the way. It seems like the party dress section never leaves the department store these days. There’s always a dance in season for which teen girls are purchasing attire.

While I suspect the cost of my dress and everything else for me to attend any dance was easily less than $100, nowadays you can fork over an arm, a leg, and a kidney to attend a prom in style. Visa conducted a national survey this past spring, in which families said they would spend $696 to $1,944 on their kids’ prom costs (MSN Money). Way back in 2002, ABC News reported prom dresses, accessories, flowers, beauty products, and other prom-related expenses made for a $2.75 billion market. Indeed, some couples spend as much for prom as other couples spend on their wedding.

Prom Movie (2011)

(If you’re a teen reading this, I suggest that you won’t remember your flowers or the hairdo ten years from now nearly so much as the dancing and the friends. Save your money and go to Europe one summer instead.)

If students don’t have enough money for a proper dress or tux, they can check out local Prom Angel or Prom Princess offerings. Some school or charities now host shopping events for gently used formals.

Dances are still themed. Looking at 2012 prom themes, I found Parisian Nights, Puttin’ on the Ritz, Unmask the Night, Grecian Garden, Feelin’ Jazzy, Under the Sea, Bright Lights Big City, The Lion King, Masquerade, and even the literary-inspired Emerald City and Hogwarts Castle. Of course, not all literary themes are appropriate: No one wants to attend The Hunger Games prom. Themes all seem to come with the requisite streamers, balloons, confetti, and photo backdrops that give the night a special sparkle.

Bite Night Prom, anyone?

As for the music, I’m betting the Cotton-Eyed Joe has given way to the Cha Cha Slide and Gangnam Style. Fast dances will still mix with slow dances, and both couples and groups will find their way onto the dance floor.

Yes, you will remember these dances. Perhaps for the fun you had with friends or the fact that you waited all night long and that stupid jerk never remembered that he promised you a dance or the way that you felt like a king or queen as you danced the night away. When the lights go up and the disco ball stops turning, you will have your memories. Whether they are good or bad…is mostly up to you.

So what do you think? How was your prom? What do you like/dislike about school dances? Do you have any fond memories?

NOTE: I’m aware that many teens choose to drink alcohol on these evenings. If you drink, PLEASE do not drive. You do not want to remember this evening for the wrong reasons. For more information, see Natalie Hartford’s blog post about the I Promise campaign.

High School Halls: Football and Guest Author Tiffany A. White

I’m so thrilled today to interview young adult author and friend Tiffany A. White for Deep-Fried Friday and my High School Halls series. When I decided to have a post on football, I knew just who to turn to since Tiffany recently released a young adult mystery that revolves around that sport. I hope you enjoy the interview and will check out her novel, Football Sweetheart.

Welcome, Tiffany!

The Houston Oilers and Dallas Cowboys graced my family’s television regularly in my childhood. Did you grow up as a football fan? If so, who did you watch and why?

Did I grow up a football fan? I wish you could hear my wicked laugh right now. If I’m not mistaken, I’ve been a football fan since I was just a few days old—my aunt has a photo of me wearing a Texas Tech t-shirt that is about ten sizes too big. I may not have known how to smile at the time, but I had excellent taste in college football.

But seriously . . . yes, I grew up a HUGE football fan. Midland Lee Rebel Football, Texas Tech Red Raider Football, and Dallas Cowboy Football filled every weekend of my childhood from Friday night through Sunday. And honestly, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

I’m not really a football fan now. I’ve turned to baseball. Do you watch the pigskin sport now? If so, who is your favorite team (or teams)?

There’s that laugh again . . . yes, I watch the pigskin sport every opportunity I get! I’m still a die-hard Red Raider, and while being a Cowboy fan hurts more often than it is fun, I remain a fan of America’s team.

A few years ago, my guy and I joined a fantasy football league called Couples Therapy with some friends. Now, we’re addicted to watching NFL RedZone so we can see each and every score in the National Football League every week. Before, we only watched the Cowboy games and the Patriot games—the teams we love.

“Tom Brady is really easy on the eyes.”

That’s right, I didn’t mention the Patriots before; that’s because we’ve only recently started following the New England team because of our beloved former Red Raider, Wes Welker. Oh, and Tom Brady is really easy on the eyes.

I grew up in South Texas and you grew up in West Texas, but both places emphasized football as a key ingredient of the high school experience. What is your fondest memory of high school football?

Wow. My fondest memory of high school football in Midland? There are so many . . .

I was Lee High School’s mascot when I was five years old. Every Friday night that year, I dressed up in my miniature cheerleading uniform and stood on the field with the varsity squad. Those girls treated me like I was a princess—and I loved it!

In high school, my strongest memory would have to be winning a football game against Abilene the same night three of my friends were involved in a horrible accident on their way to the stadium. During warm-ups on the field, we could hear the emergency vehicle sirens. It wasn’t until someone came and told us what had happened that we realized those sirens were for our friends. The accident was extremely serious, leaving one of our friends in a coma for a while and hospitalized for months. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best idea to tell the team about the wreck before the game, but winning it meant that much more. We were always a unit, but that night we were family.

Geez, I’m tearing up just thinking about it. Here’s to you Monica, Luke, and Carissa.

I have many memories of pep rallies, wearing school colors, playing our fight song, and attending games on Fridays. Why do you think sports generally, and football specifically, play such an important role in school spirit?

High school can be stressful; and even more, high school can be awkward. I think football and all sports help the student body come together as one. If only for a little while, teenagers forget about what’s weighing them down in the classrooms and at home and get to have fun—blow off steam in a way.

“I think sports help break down the barriers that many of us put up.”

Also, I believe sports remind everyone, despite the social circles they belong to or their classifications, that being one is more powerful than being alone. When our team scores a touchdown, everyone jumps up and down in celebration and hugs the person next to them—regardless of who that person is. Because of this, I think sports help break down the barriers that many of us put up.

TEAM–Together Everyone Achieves More.

When I was growing up, I played football with the neighborhood kids. I used to be able to throw a perfect spiral pretty consistently. Have you played football yourself? Recreational? Powder-puff?

Have I played football? Julie, you sure know how to make me laugh! Of course I’ve played football! Much like Football Sweetheart’s protagonist Aimee, I served my high school team as a student trainer. Every Saturday morning after treatments and while the boys watched film, my good friend and fellow trainer and I would go outside, run through the fitness and drill stations that the boys would do during the week (logs, ropes, etc), and then we’d toss the ball around. Back then, we both had excellent arms and actually threw tight spirals.

Our senior year, I signed up to play Powder-puff against our cross town rivals. I learned all of the offensive linewoman routes and everything, but for whatever reason I couldn’t make it to the game. I think “real” high school sports got in the way. To this day, I hate that I missed it. My best friend Brandy supposedly took out one of the Midland High girls. Whoever said Power-puff was a no-contact sport obviously hasn’t played in West Texas . . .

Your recently released novel, Football Sweetheart, features a high school athletic trainer? Why did you choose a behind-the-scenes football team member as the protagonist?

The short answer is because I was a student trainer. But the long answer is because I was a student trainer. People not involved in athletic medicine don’t really know anything about it, and I wanted to showcase the trainers.

When I was fifteen, I dislocated my knee playing in a freshman basketball game. Because the injury occurred during a high school sponsored event, I was rushed over to the high school field house where the head trainer looked at my knee. After a visit to the orthopedic surgeon, an MRI, and brutal physical therapy, I picked up my rehabilitation schedule at the high school and worked every day with the student trainers. Despite the fact they were all high schoolers themselves, they took great pride in helping athletes get back into shape. Once my treatments ended and I was officially released to go back to basketball, I realized that basketball was no longer in my future; all I wanted to do was help other student athletes the way Doc’s group helped me. Trainers aren’t managers, even if student trainers oftentimes fill both roles on a football team. Student trainers are one of the most professional groups I’ve ever been a part of—student training changed my life.

You do a great job of describing the football preparation, practices, and games in your book. How did you get that level of detail? Did you research or use your own knowledge?

“My experiences gave me the behind-the-scenes knowledge I write about in Football Sweetheart.”

I may have answered this a bit in that last question, but I pulled all of my knowledge of the football preparation, practices, and games from my experiences as a student trainer. For three years of my life, I participated in two-a-days, after-school practices, and stood on the sidelines of all the Midland Lee football games. I already knew football, everyone “knows” football in Midland; but my experiences gave me the behind-the-scenes knowledge I write about in Football Sweetheart. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly; I know the true meaning behind the phrase, “What happens in the locker room, stays in the locker room.” So, if there’s anything you want to know that I don’t talk about in my book, just ask. If it’s not top-secret, I’ll share.

Your novel’s tagline is “High school football can be murder.” Tell us a little about how you weave together high school football and a murder mystery. What is Football Sweetheart about?

Football Sweetheart follows Aimee Freeman, a high school student trainer at Midland Lee. Like most seniors, she’s looking forward to the start of her final year of high school and is excited to catch up with her best friend Ella who has been a bit secretive all summer long. With the start of football two-a-days, Aimee thinks she’ll have all of the time in the world to catch up with her friend—but then Ella goes missing.

Aimee realizes Ella’s secrets might be the key to finding her. As the case unfolds, Aimee discovers more than one person may have wanted to harm Ella. Was it Ella’s current boyfriend, a social outcast the entire city seems intent on blaming for her disappearance? Or her ex-boyfriend, the beloved star quarterback who has harassed Ella since their breakup? The list of potential suspects continues to grow after Aimee reads Ella’s journal, but she must first break her best friend’s secret code to reveal their identities.

Unbeknownst to Aimee, her investigation has not gone unnoticed. Ella’s abductor is watching and waiting. Will he decide Aimee needs to be silenced–making her the next target?

That’s all of the “about” that I can share without giving too much away.

I’ve known for years the story that I’ve wanted to tell. Obviously, football is and always has been a huge part of my life. I hail from a town in West Texas where high school football is life. I took my experiences and memories and weaved in a murder mystery because I’ve always been obsessed with the genre (in a healthy way, I promise).

But here’s something not everyone knows—when I was either an 8th or 9th grader, a local high school senior/student trainer went missing. The case is still considered open in Midland, but the girl’s remains were finally found years later in a field outside town. This true crime haunted me and haunted Midland for years. Midland is a small town; in 2011, I believe Midland only had a handful of homicide cases. Everyone knows the world is more violent today than it was in the ’90s, so just imagine how we felt. Here I was, watching the news about a girl just a few years older than I go missing. Then I joined the very same athletic training program that she participated in. I guess my story has been brewing ever since, but make no mistake—Football Sweetheart is fictional and the product of my imagination from years and years of watching and reading murder mysteries.

How do you think high school football has changed over the years? Is it still the same now as when you went to high school?

“High school football in West Texas hasn’t changed one single bit…”

High school football in West Texas hasn’t changed one single bit since I attended Lee. The players, coaches, school officials, and members of the community are still just as serious about winning today as they were years ago. The city has upgraded the football facilities since the ’90s; today the high school teams play in a state-of-the-art stadium that holds over 15,000 people—and they fill it all of the time. The Midland Lee football program has yielded multiple NFL success stories, including Eric Winston (Kansas City Chiefs) and Cedric Benson (Green Bay Packers), both of whom play today. A few of the players I went to school with also experienced successful NFL careers (brothers Rex and Ryan Tucker).

However, high school in general is so very different today than it was in the ’90s. For starters, the kids seem so much more insecure—primarily the girls. Society for whatever reason has taught teenagers today that dressing in as little clothing as possible and wearing high heels is normal. It’s not. High school is supposed to be about education, and how can one learn when wearing five-inch heels without focusing on the pain? We dressed for comfort back in the day; we looked cute, don’t get me wrong, but it was more about jeans and flats back then.

Back to the insecurity aspect, an abundance of teenage girls today are or have already been pregnant at least once. Shows like Teen Mom on MTV aren’t helping matters. I’m not going to imply that girls weren’t having sex in high school in the ’90s, but I will say one thing—they weren’t getting pregnant left and right. When a girl announced she was pregnant while I was in high school, she was shipped across the street to an alternative classroom. She was removed from the mainstream so that other girls didn’t see her and think it was okay to get pregnant.

I’m not saying this was the proper action in the ’90s, but it worked. I can remember only one girl having a baby while I was at Lee, and more than that, I remember the reaction of all of us—shock and fear. It was the perfect form of birth control for my circle. Today, pregnant teens are everywhere. I’m not just saying this; my mom recently retired after forty-four years of teaching and she once made the comment that it was normal to have at least one pregnant girl in each period. On average, she taught six periods a day. That’s six pregnant girls just in her classes. Hearing her stories about today’s youth frightens me.

Teenagers are always going to have sex, even unprotected sex. It’s a fact of life. But because of what seems normal today, I felt it imperative that I make Football Sweetheart as clean as possible. I didn’t want to ignore the social situations of today, but I also didn’t want to showcase them. I wanted to focus on other things, good things . . . like murder. LOL.

Football Sweetheart is the first in the young adult series. Have you already started plotting or writing the next book? If so, can you give us a teeny, tiny teaser?

It is and I have!  The second story of the Football Sweetheart series will be published later this year, and the third and fourth books in 2013.  I’ve yet to publicly announce the name of book two, but I am very close to revealing the cover.  Until then, I will say that FS2 picks up one month after the conclusion of Football Sweetheart.  It’s Halloween week, Aimee has a new boyfriend, and all is right in the world . . . until she realizes someone is watching her, following her, and getting a little too close for comfort.

But that’s all I can say . . . for now.

Thanks, Tiffany! What a pleasure to have you talk high school football with me today!

Be sure to find Tiffany on the web (she’s everywhere!) and to check out Football Sweetheart.

LINKS

Website: http://www.tiffanyawhite.com/
Blog: http://tiffanyawhite.wordpress.com/
Twitter:https://twitter.com/Tiffany_A_White
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TiffanyAnneWhite
Facebook Author Page:  http://www.facebook.com/AuthorTiffanyAWhite
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15755407-football-sweetheart
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Football-Sweetheart-The-Series-ebook/dp/B008LOD7FC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1344274807&sr=8-1&keywords=football+sweetheart
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/football-sweetheart-tiffany-a-white/1112318218?ean=2940014999670

High School Halls: School Spirit

Welcome to Deep-Fried Friday! This weekend is Homecoming for my local school district, and school spirit is running high. It got me to thinking about school spirit activities for my High School Halls series.

That Was Then

Long ago, back in another century, a different decade called The 80’s, I remember pep rallies, cheerleaders, Homecoming mums, our fight song, school colors, the mascot, and much more.

We were the Calallen Wildcats with colors of maroon and white. Original, right?

Pep Rally
Uniform

I played the flute part of our school’s fight song at every pep rally and every football game until I was marching band’s drum major in my senior year. In that last year, I wore something special on pep rally days–a white shirt with a maroon-and-white jumper and a drum major boot on the front. Our flag and rifle corps and our cheerleaders also wore uniforms on game days, and the football players wore their jerseys.

Each Friday, we purchased spirit ribbons to wear on our clothing. They came in maroon with white text or white with maroon text and said things like, “Sock it to ’em!” or “Beat the ____.” I still have a special one for band that I wore for Homecoming:

*waving at Susan Hanscheck, my fabulous co-drum major*

Our cheerleaders were awesome, doing far more than leading cheers on the stadium track. They were not only yell leaders but gymnasts and tumblers with pyramids that defied gravity and stunts that relied on catching each other at just the right time. Yes, I mocked them then (hey, I was in band!), with their bouncy hair, their bouncy feet, and their bouncy personalities. But I was rather proud of our young ladies, especially when they placed at the Nationals cheerleading competition–because, yeah, they were that good.

I recall a cheer from school that few from less-football-inclined areas seem to know. Maybe this is an indication of how seriously we take our football in Texas, but when we were on defense, sometimes the cheer was:

Blood makes the grass grow. Hit! Hit!
Blood makes the grass grow. Hit! Hit!

Yet most of the cheers were more along the lines of:

Our team is red-hot.
Our team is red-hot.
Our team is R-E-D, red, H-O-T, hot.
Once we start, we can’t be stopped.
Red-hot!

Homecoming is the quintessential be-true-to-your-school weekend, with more school spirit swag than ever. The spirit ribbons were bigger, the hoopla of the game was grander. The atmosphere sizzled with a desire to win and celebrate our alma mater. At the football game itself, our pride was really on the line: No one wants to lose their homecoming game. So we cheered harder and applauded louder when we won.

In my day, a young man might purchase a mum for you and/or invite you to the homecoming dance. There would be a real mum flower surrounded by a border with school color ribbons hanging down. Little trinkets were added, like a football or a cheerleading megaphone or a small cowbell. If you really wanted to go for broke, the guy gave his girl a double-mum, with two flowers included.

Oddly enough, I don’t recall any big spirit stuff happening during basketball, track, volleyball, or tennis seasons. We went gung-ho with school spirit in the fall, and I presume that lasted us for the rest of the year.

This Is Now

There are still pep rallies, cheerleaders, and school spirit swag, of course. However, some things are a little different. While my school’s cheerleaders were ahead of their time with tumbling tricks, it appears that cheerleading as a sport and its connection to gymnastics has grown by leaps and bounds. No longer it is enough to do a kick or a jump. Many of these young ladies, and men in some schools, are incredibly athletic and well-trained. Cheerleading and tumbling classes abound, and personal coaching is available in some places. Still, the main job of a cheerleader remains the same: Get the crowd excited about winning the game.

(Pink pom-poms for
breast cancer awareness.)

I haven’t seen any spirit ribbons, but the football players still wear jerseys on football days. And in my neck-of-the-woods, elementary kids are encouraged to wear their recreational league jerseys as a show of support to those whom they emulate–the high school team.

There are still homecoming mums, but I haven’t seen a real flower in years. And a double-mum would be practically an insult, I suppose, since they are now larger than Kansas and have more bling than a Kardashian wedding:

The honest truth is that I thought mums were hideous then, and I think they are more hideous now. You can no longer even pin this baby onto a shirt or dress. It is hung by a ribbon over the girl’s neck like a cowbell on a cow. Moreover, the guys now get their own version of a mum, which are about the size we gals used to wear. (Can you tell that I can’t really figure out how all of this is related to school spirit? Someone, please advise.)

A nice addition in my area, though, is a Homecoming Parade down our town’s main street. It’s well-attended and fun for the high school students. It’s a good kickoff for the weekend and a way for the community to show support for the local team. Moreover, the homecoming dance is still happening, although I haven’t been asked to chaperon so I can’t give the details on that event. I’m laying bets on the inclusion of a disco ball.

I suspect school spirit is the same in the 50’s and the 80’s and the 2010’s as far as students wanting to feel part of something big. We revel in those moments and recall those fond memories. Perhaps the “ten percenters” weren’t involved, but the majority of the high school wants to engage in the music, the cheers, the outward signs, and the inner excitement of showing school spirit.

What school spirit activities do you remember from high school? What school spirit activities do you take part in now? How important do you think school spirit is to teenagers?