Breaking the Stereotypes

Stuyvesant High School, the pinnacle of the New York City Department of Education, is not your average high school.

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Stuyvesant High School—the most elite of the specialized high schools and for that matter, all the schools within the New York City Department of Education—is not your average high school. Far from it in fact. It seems like Stuyvesant is its own little society shoved into a 10-story (though there are rumors of an 11th floor) building. Needless to say, Stuyvesant does not fit into what society deems a typical high school or at least, what Hollywood says a typical high school is. Here are some “all American high school” stereotypes that we break here at Stuyvesant:

1. Everyone seems to know each other.

You may or may not have noticed in your seven-minute commute from the fourth floor to the third floor, but there are a lot of people at Stuyvesant. So much so, you probably wouldn’t even meet every single person if you were to stay an extra four years. Perhaps you’ll get there if you were to look at your Facebook recommended friends some more (suggested time: four hours a day).

2. A student runs into a chemistry lab late. She gets paired up with her crush and then proceeds to blow the lab up by mixing salt water and food coloring. Maybe she’ll get a slap on the wrist or a stern talking-to by the principal.

A more Stuyvesant-like scenario: A student stumbles in after running up to the ninth floor chemistry lab from the first floor with her rolly backpack. She rushes toward her station and puts on her goggles, which instantly fog up from the sheer body heat. She’ll probably go around and do stuff with like hydrochloric acid or something—you know, non-dangerous substances.

3. The chorus kids break into spontaneous song and dance on the lunch tables in a choreographed routine.

The cafeteria (also affectionately called the cafe or caf) contains around 150 students and mind you, 150 students who most likely do not know each other, let alone 150 students who can perfectly belt out a high G flat in the middle of an impromptu concert. The closest thing to a rhythm in the cafeteria would have to be people pounding on the vending machines for plantain chips. As for dancing on the lunch tables, there’d be broken ankles because of the amount of banana peels and syrup left on top of them.

4. Regular physical education classes.

Swim gym.

5. High schoolers have love lives. High schoolers have successful love lives at that.

At Stuyvesant, about 97 percent of us will die single and alone. As much as some of us crave the loving touch of another human being, most of us just want to graduate. Hot tip: if you want everlasting affection, go adopt a dog. At least he won’t leave you on read. To add on, “high schoolers” are always climbing out of some window to go meet their fling for a romantic rendezvous at 7:00 p.m. This is completely, totally, undeniably unrealistic, for a large percentage of us live in apartments and would most likely resort to climbing down a fire escape. The other scenario would be that you live in a house, which would also not be viable because the failing housing market in New York City would be the last thing that drives you and your partner together as neighbors.

6. There are hot vampires lurking amongst us.


6. The “popular” kids pulling up to school in sports cars, blaring rap music on the speakers, then driving practically everyone home after school.

Driving a car (let alone driving your car to Stuyvesant) is wildly impractical in New York City. The amount you’d pay for parking would most likely cover your first semester of college, and even if someone does find a mythical parking spot, he WILL forget where he parked. Though the subways and buses are problems, at least they’re not our problems. At least you’ll have your own subway seat sometimes?

7. Graduation! Everyone’s super happy and doing backflips that eventually land them somewhere that is NOT the stage. There are only about five minutes of name reading, and everyone goes home to party.

What REALLY happens at Stuyvesant graduations is this: the names of 50 people with the last names Chan, Chang, Chen, Cheng, Lee, Li, Lin, Ling, Zhang, Zheng, Wang, Wong, Kim, and Park are read to an audience who has already fallen asleep. Would it be wise to try to do a backflip? Probably not, because you’re going to regret not spending your hospital bill money on college.

Ultimately, though cringy high school movies and 30-year-olds pretending to be 16 will never be relatable to us, at least we’re blessed to have a unique and fulfilling, albeit different, high school experience. Right?