A Fabricated World of Kings and Queens:

Why Today’s Schools Are Not Safe

High school is a modern day hierarchy. It is difficult to understand how this hierarchy works unless one is caught up in it. Once one is, there are several options. One can acknowledge the power of the "popular" students, those select few who have uncovered the secrets of status. Or one can dismiss the high school cast system, consider oneself separate from any category of jock or stoner or prep or geek. Dismissal does not come easy. It takes discipline and perseverance and the strength to think of life beyond the unfair institution of high school. Acceptance, kowtowing to those who have obtained notoriety, applies to those who cannot, or will not open their eyes to the world beyond the confining realms of high school.

Then there are those who cannot accept and cannot dismiss and it only makes them angrier. These people are Kip Kinkel and Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. These are the people who let the total distortion of high school drive them to commit horrid and unspeakable acts.

There should be alternatives. To most modem day American teenagers, whether they realize it or not, their entire existence begins and ends with high school. This shouldn't be. Young people should not have to be subject to ridicule and humiliations every single day of their lives. Every student should have the option to simply extricate themselves. High school is not reality. High school is the furthest from reality. High school is a fabricated world of kings and queens, princes and princesses, prettiest and ugliest, richest and poorest, weakest and strongest. The adult world does not acknowledge these labels because they are conveniently disguised in euphemisms like "Homecoming Court," "Best Looking Guy and Girl" "Best Dressed" and "Biggest Athlete". When adolescents are placed in a position to judge other adolescents based on appearance, society is instilling shallowness.

We cannot blame the recent violence on music. We cannot blame it on movies. We cannot blame it on television or video games. These are scapegoats we use so that we cannot be hurt by the truth. The only ones to blame are ourselves. This is the result of tradition backfiring on itself. This is the result of the unspoken high school tradition of alienating those who are different and praising those who are the same.

Schools cannot be safe until these rigid categories are destroyed. If the adults who run American schools refuse to destroy them, then that one disturbed, angry student might.

Written by a graduate of a local high school for a scholarship award competition sponsored by the local Democratic Committee.

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