Stuyvesant students share their experiences of sibling rivalries across different high schools.
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Teenagers are no strangers to the concept of sibling rivalry. Competition is a word that virtually lives within Stuyvesant’s walls, so it can be expected that Stuyvesant students feel heightened rivalry toward siblings who attend different high schools. Indeed we do, and whether this competition is friendly, peaceful, or slightly resentful, students have unique views to share on it.
It’s not unusual for students to squabble with their siblings to defend their respective high schools. Junior Isabella Chow’s brother is currently a freshman at Staten Island Tech. Chow’s failed attempts at convincing her younger brother to attend Stuyvesant often ended in arguments and debates concerning the two schools. “Probably every day we would have some form of bicker[ing] about [which] school’s better, whether it be policies, especially with all the new COVID policies, [or] apparently Staten Island Tech decided to keep Regents week, so [we have] tons of arguments about it,” she affirmed.
Some siblings have similar opinions about their high schools. This is the case for senior Nora Archer and her brother, who is a junior at Beacon High School. “I think he tends to agree that Stuy is better, but when I was applying to high school, I actually wanted to go to Beacon more, so I was jealous at first,” Archer revealed. Now, according to Archer, she and her brother are in consensus and both feel that Stuyvesant is better.
For some students, different high schools between siblings don’t necessarily spark direct competition. Senior Nour Kastoun, who has a younger brother attending Regis High School, explained, “As an older sibling, you sort of have a responsibility to guide your younger sibling, but this way he doesn’t have to feel pressure to take the exact same classes as me or have the same experience.” Kastoun and her brother feel well-suited to their schools, which is healthy for both their relationship and respective educations. “We have different experiences because we have different learning styles—I do better in bigger learning environments, and Regis is definitely a much smaller school,” she elaborated.
Students with older siblings, like freshman Zoe Chun, find themselves with more independence at Stuyvesant, unencumbered by expectations and standards previously set by their siblings. “Here, I’m not in [my sister’s] shadow. In middle school, my teachers always knew me as her little sister—now I can make my own name,” Chun said. Her sister is currently a senior at LaGuardia High School. Though both sisters are involved in their schools’ music programs, their busy schedules often prevent them from attending each other’s concerts. This helps to create a stronger sibling bond as the sisters find other ways of actively showing support outside of school events. “We had our winter concerts on the same day, at the exact same time, so neither of us could watch each other, but I watch her performances when I can, and she sits with me while I do my homework, when she can,” Chun added.
Archer’s brother also shows support for Archer and Stuyvesant by attending SING!. “He’s watched the 2018 and 2020 shows. He actually wears the Stuy SING! hoodie all the time,” she said.
Differences in school customs, like varying homework loads and different classes, can spark indignation. Especially considering the competitive and busy nature of Stuyvesant culture, it can be irritating for students to see firsthand how other schools have significantly lighter workloads. “[My sister] comes home and has no homework, despite taking four APs, while I have hours and hours,” Chun described.
Likewise, Kastoun feels some resentment toward her brother’s lighter workload. “Regis doesn’t have APs and sends a lot of its kids to top colleges anyway,” she said.
Whether these siblings’ loyalties are stronger toward their high schools or toward each other, sibling banter is clearly persistent. Going to different schools may not just be a reason to joust—it can also be refreshing for siblings to not have to constantly be around each other. “I know I’d kind of lose my mind if I [had] to go on the train with him every morning,” Chow joked.