Missing the Northeast: High school

It’s funny. While I was in high school, I was never really one for school pride. I guess I could say the same thing about college, as well.

Although there are some people who fully embrace the spirit of being in school and try to personify school pride by donning gear and getting involved in school rivalries, there are some who go through the motions simply by going through the motions. I guess I would say that, in high school, I was part of the latter category.

Now that’s not to say I didn’t care. On the contrary, I got good grades and was involved in multiple clubs and activities. Aside from my best friend – whom I met in first grade – I began many of my best friendships in high school and have successfully maintained a handful of them throughout the years.

Although school pride wasn’t my thing in high school, I can honestly say that in the past six-and-a-half years since graduating from my Archbishop Ryan, I definitely miss it. I miss both the structure of learning involved in any high school, as well as what I learned and the experiences I had in my specific institution.

My Time in High School

My time at Ryan was everything I needed it to be. I took classes to get me interested in what I wanted to do with my life; my journalism and media classes and involvement in the student newspaper eventually led to me pursuing my current career in public relations and my constant interest in journalism.

I was given the chance to participate in the plays at Ryan. Theater has always been, at best, a passing hobby. However, if it weren’t for that, I probably would have never gotten involved in plays at college, where I was lucky enough to find some great friends, as well as my girlfriend.

My desire to pack my schedule with classes that I both wanted and felt an obligation to take helped me master certain elements of time-management that I was greatly lacking before and badly needed for college and my current job.

The great thing about Ryan in particular was that – at least at that time – class sizes were reasonably large (my graduating class had approximately 650 kids, I think) and allowed for a bevy of personalities to meet and befriend along the way.

After School

Getting back to the subject of pride, I always find it interesting whenever anybody talks about going to sports games when they were in high school. I think, at most, I might have gone to two girls’ volleyball games at the request of a friend of mine who was on the team. I went to my first Ryan football game the year after graduation when my friend was covering the annual Turkey Bowl between my school and George Washington High School for the now defunct Northeast News Gleaner.

However, I like to think I show my own school pride in my own silent way. I still, on occasion, rock some.

When my sister was in the plays at Ryan, I almost always came to see her perform. And, although I admittedly haven’t had any reason to do so in years, I returned to my high school a few times during my college years to check back in on my old teachers.

A Few Thoughts

First of all, no matter where you are from originally, finding somebody who went to or knows about your high school is an instant conversation starter and bonding initiator. I recently spoke with somebody I had never met before who had graduated from Ryan a good 20 years or so before me; needless to say, the conversation went pretty well from that point on.

Second, Father Judge is commonly considered to be one of the chief rivals of Ryan. Whether this is a tribute to the bond of coming from the Northeast or simply my (for the sake of argument) displaced sense of school pride, I lived and became close friends with a Judge graduate.

Third, it’s quite a shame that so many high schools in the Northeast have been closing down or planning to merge in the past few years. Although Ryan will probably not be victimized by that any time soon, I feel bad for people like my dad who had to deal with the news of the closing of his alma mater, Northeast Catholic, this year.

Fourth, I spent most of this column discussing my own high school and a few others of relevance to what I discussed. However, every high school – public, archdiocesan or private – in the Northeast has numerous positives. Therefore, I strongly encourage everybody to write in the comment section about their own high schools, as well as why they think they were fortunate enough to attend high school in the Northeast.

Missing the Northeast is a column written by Stephen Wilson, a former Northeast resident who moved to New Jersey for work. You can read his column on the last Monday of every month.

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