Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Teen Roundtable: High School

It’s that time again, for our monthly Teen Roundtable with our Teen Spies! Check out our previous discussions about banned books and the paranormal genre.

Unfortunately, we were bad YA authors this month and accidentally scheduled our discussion for the same night as the Breaking Dawn premiere, so we were a little light on Spies. But don’t worry! Lynsay, Lissa and Scotie had so many good things to say that you won’t miss the others (too much!).

This month’s topic was HIGH SCHOOL. From cliques to bullying to boys, what does YA get right and wrong?

On Cliques

Lynsay: I don't really notice hugely exclusive cliques at my school [600-700 students]. Like, you will not find all the cheerleaders hanging together. They have their own circle with people that aren't necessarily cheerleaders. The popular kids do tend to be athletes in general, but I do go to a largely athletic school.

Lissa: At my school [1400 students], the "popular" kids are the stoners/partiers and athletes. Also, the very "slutty" girls seem to be very popular.

Cristin: Are there any unpopular cheerleaders/football players (who are almost always the popular kids in YA)? Or popular band kids? Just how rigid is the social divide? And who's the bottom of the rung?

Lynsay: There are a lot of popular band kids who will hang with popular Cheerleaders and such. And yes there are unpopular football players and cheerleaders. The bottom rung is hard because it's like, the loners? But I guess that's the point of being the bottom and I don't know why.

Scotie: The thing I love about my school is that the people who would be "popular" at normal high school are the unpopular kids. We don't really have cliques, everyone hangs out with everyone. At Early College, it really is like a family. Are there mean kids there? Sure, but the drama is nothing like what I here going on at my base school, where I would be going to school if I hadn't been accepted here.

Lissa: I think cliques are more of a thing in smaller schools where everyone knows everyone. At my school, everyone talks to everyone, and we're all decent to one another - generally. Still, there are the groups in which everyone wants to be part of. The "fun" kids.

Cristin: So do that mean there’s some aspect of social climbing at your school?

Lissa: Yes, there’s social climbing, definitely. You have to get to know everyone, get to be with them, and you'll be associated. The thing is, though, everyone DOES hang out with everyone. The cool group has friends outside the "cool group," and they're not judged on that. I guess to get into the cool group would be to get one of them alone, and then just start sneaking your way in.

Alexandra: do girls ever sleep around with jocks etc. to become more popular?

Lissa: I think so. There are a few girls in my grade that are hanging off of jocks to get "in" with the older, cooler, (hotter) kids.

On Parties

Alexandra: You’ve read about that big house party or seen it in movies, right? Where someone's parents go away and practically the whole school goes to get trashed? Does that actually happen or is it way exaggerated?

Lynsay: I do not party or drink but I here less about huge parties and more about people getting trashed with their group of friends

Lissa:  Exactly. I don't hear much about parties per se, but more about drunken nights with a close group of friends.

On Bullying

Lissa: I don't see much bullying, but I know it's there. I think it may be more Facebook-oriented, but the biggest bullying that I see commonly is name-calling and stuff, but usually in manners that could be considered "playful." But in my grade, we’re still trying to adjust and find our group of friends. It's hard to tell right now what might be set in stone in the future.

Lynsay: Well, I definitely see online bullying. At another school in the area, someone made a Facebook like page that said "Name Name is a slut" and people were liking it. It was so insulting and terrible, but of course you wouldn't know who made the page. But everything else is more like "talking about people.”

Lissa:  What's unfortunate at my school is that the kids being picked on don't really understand English, or they do, but are immigrants. They'll do anything for attention, even if it means getting laughed at.

Scotie: Bullying is not allowed at my school. Student government and the staff makes that perfectly clear. However, there are mean girls at my school. I haven't been involved in that much drama myself, even though my friends star in most of it.

On Their Typical Day

Lynsay: Arrive in the morning barely on time like 7:20 ish. Sing in Chorus, then English, lunch with my staff in the Journalism Room, Journalism, AP Earth and Environmental., out at 2:15pm. After school usually taking pictures for school or attending club meetings.

Lissa: I'll get up at 8, but school starts at 8:55. I skip breakfast and I'm at school by 8:45 after walkking there with my friends. And then I'll go to my four classes (75-mins each) and will have lunch with my friends with the same lunch. I get out at 3, but on Wednesdays at 5:30 because I'm in band. I'll usually hang around school for a bit and talk to people, and then will head home. I don't get much homework this semester, but next semester I'll get a lot because of my classes. This semester, I get some French and English homework, three-four times a week, but unless it's a summative task, it doesn't take too long. I usually read or hang out on the computer, and talk/IM friends, or go "chill" with them at parks or the mall for downtime.

Scotie: My schedule is as thus: Get to TCR 7:30, Ride bus the ABTech Early College 8:00, IMAPS 2 (Math and Science) 8:30-10:00, English 1 10:00- 11:30, House/Study Hall/Lunch 11:30-1:00, World History/Gym/ACA 1:00- 2:05. I have World History on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Gym on Tuesdays. ACA on Thursdays. This class is College/Career Prep class.

On What Contemporary YA Gets Wrong

Lissa: The athletes-are-huge-partiers cliche. A lot of serious athletes won't touch substances because they're afraid to wreck their chances. The emphasis on the "popular" crowd, because it's not ALWAYS like that. And parties, because I don't hear about many parties, or drugs really.

Alexandra: What about mean girls?

Lissa: Oh, there are the mean girls!!!! DEFINITELY! They just hide behind pretty masks. Everyone is two-faced. Seriously.

Lynsay: There are mean people, they just don't wearing matching outfits and put dye in people's shampoo and stuff. and I agree everything is not always so popularity driven. Lots of people talk to lots of other different people.

Scotie: I think that they over-do the whole cheerleaders and jocks thing. Not all of them are bad, though I agree most are. And cheerleaders and jocks aren't the only mean people. They downplay the some of the drama, but not all of it. Being openly gay or bisexual is normal at my school but my friend who goes to my base school doesn't get it so easy.

On Boys, Flirting, and Modern Technology

Lissa: I've been asked out by guys BY THEIR FRIENDS. It's terrible. WHAT SUCKED was that the guy who asked me out for his friend was my crush.

Lynsay: I think that flirting does still happen in person, but you get a lot of random boys messaging you on Facebook being like, "Hey girl, you look good." and it's just like is that what you would come up and say to me in person?

Lissa: I got asked out the other day online, and yes, relationships are mostly built online/texting, although you have to have had talked to the person a bit to even get their number/to texting/chatting online.

Alexandra: So, if a guy did text you and ask you out instead of doing it in person, let's say, would that relieve you or would that just make you irritated and would you wish he did it in person?

Lissa: It would irritate me if they never talked to me in person. There's this kid who only talks to me via texting, and hardly says a word to me in person.

Lynsay: Oh my goodness Lissa, I hate that let's be an awesome person over texting and pretend like I can't talk in person.

Karen: Where's Copil? Why isn't he weighing in on why boys are so dumb?

Copil: Oh, you need me to state the obvious?

Alexandra: Boys are stupid throw rocks at them?

Copil: Actually, I think technology today allows for a lot of insecurities to be covered. Put another way, guys will be even stupider with technology than they were without it.

Lissa: Sometimes they're sweet - usually when they're alone - but other times they're totally indifferent. Uusally, when with a group of guys, the guy will act totally indifferent to you, like you're just THERE.

Copil: The guys who like you find ways to talk to you even when it's not convenient or natural. They make embarrassing small talk and seem nervous because they are SURE you know their thoughts. I think I would probably have been that guy. The one who texted a crush because it felt safer.

On What Contemporary YA Is Missing

Lissa: Nothing really. YA seems to capture EVERYTHING!


And there you have it. I hope there’s some helpful information in here for you, especially those of you who write contemporary YA. Many thanks to our Spies who sacrificed the midnight showing of Breaking Dawn to share their insight with us!

Got an idea for a Teen Roundtable you’d like to see? Or are you a teen who’d like to contribute to YA Confidential? Email us and let us know!


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