Sweet and Sour: The Sophomore Bar

Issue 6, Volume 113

By Cathleen Xi, Johnny Lin 

Cover Image

Most students turn their noses up at the idea of the Sophomore Bar. The Bar, its paint chipped and marked with the word “SOPHOMORES!” in all its glory, consists of a four-foot-tall island arcing around a corner of lockers on the sixth floor. Often seen with students sitting on the island or crowding around it, the popular hangout spot is notorious for its constant activity, spilled drinks, colliding bodies, and disruptive noise. With the Sophomore Bar’s chaotic reputation comes a myriad of opinions on one of the most iconic parts of the school.

Many students stop by the Bar to chat with their friends between classes, while others find a not-so-quiet spot nearby to do their homework or find amusement in watching the chaos unfold. “It depends on the perspective. If you’re part of it, it’s very overwhelming. But if you’re on the sidelines, it’s quite fun to watch,” sophomore Sasha Murokh, who hangs out by the Bar for a period or two each day, said. “I’m usually there third [period], and there’s a group of kids who all decided to play kazoo together and it’s quite a chaotic scenario most of the time.”

While this energy may be the intrigue of the Sophomore Bar for some, many students choose to actively avoid the area due to the constant disorder. “It’s mostly stupid [EXPLETIVE]. There’s just people on top of each other, wrestling,” sophomore Brandon Waworuntu said. Those who hang out at the Sophomore Bar are often subject to these antics, and so choosing to be nearby comes with an acceptance of that.

With the anarchy comes a big mess. Janitor Dawn Howe, who clears the area every day after school, shares the aftermath she has to deal with. “They leave food, they leave crumbs, they leave stuff in their lockers,” she said. Unsurprisingly, the sanitation situation means the dangers of the Sophomore Bar aren’t restricted to out-of-control children. “The mice. I’ve seen the mice. They go in and out.”

Outsiders, including non-sophomores and staff members, have mixed opinions on the Sophomore Bar. On one hand, the noise roaring from the Bar can disturb classes on the sixth floor, and reports of teachers chastising rowdy students are not unheard of. “Sometimes, as a teacher, you see too much—makeouts, blatant cheating, borderline violent play—and I know teachers can be bothered by the hazy boundaries,” English teacher Lauren Stuzin said.

On the other hand, the activity of the Bar may be taken as just another example of kids being kids. “I don’t think it deters from the learning environment,” said Stuzin. “But I do sometimes wonder if we should still have recess for high schoolers.” In this sense, the students who give in to the din and disorderly behavior of the Sophomore Bar find it to be a much-needed escape from the clutches of academics.

Though the Sophomore Bar is one of the loudest places in the building, it is just a few yards away from one of the quietest places: the library. While this might seem like a problem at first glance, the librarians working just a few meters away from the bar have a neutral stance on the disruptions and sympathize with the sophomores. “I usually see kids hanging out, even playing soccer by the escalators. But overall, it’s just a place to hang out,” librarian Christina Kennedy said.

Senior Cynthia Chang remembers thinking fondly of the Sophomore Bar as a fun hangout spot even in her freshman year. “My friends and I always thought the Sophomore Bar was the place to go. It was one of the things we looked forward to in freshman year because you only have a Bar when you’re a sophomore and senior,” she said. Chang’s grade, however, was entirely remote for their sophomore year, and never actually got a chance to use the Sophomore Bar.

The issue of the COVID-19 pandemic also plays a role in students’ attachment to things like the Sophomore or Senior Bars. Librarian Mary McGregor brought up that it hasn’t been so long since the end of remote learning, and students are still adjusting to in-person life at Stuy. “Around the beginnings of COVID, students were not allowed to be in the hallways, and now that things have started up again, I guess students are trying to find a place to belong and hang out together,” she said.

Howe also understands the sophomores’ situation, whether it be their endless appetite or long after-school activities, but wishes students would take better care of their surroundings and make all of their lives easier. “I don’t want to leave the kids without their snacks after school either,” she said. “But at the same time, it’s not that much of an effort to just put your stuff in the garbage, to make your school environment cleaner.”

Perhaps the Sophomore Bar harbors so much noise and chaos because it serves as a place of comfort, a place that sophomores can call their own and feel they belong in. Undeniably a hive of activity, the Sophomore Bar remains a popular location for students to gather. Despite, and perhaps because of, its raucous atmosphere, the Bar provides relief for tired students who spend long hours doing schoolwork. So even as a new cohort of students uses it each year, the Sophomore Bar has always remained a place of endless commotion.