Clique culture. You’ve seen it in Mean Girls and in Gossip Girl, and you have most likely experienced it here. Discussing clique culture is a perennial favorite here at Maroon, and with Halloween behind us, the staff has spent a lot of time reflecting on the pervasive topic. And so, we made it our mission to explore the history of clique culture as it exists in Scarsdale High School.
We spoke with SHS alumni from as far back as 1942 and each offered unique perspectives and memories of their experiences in high school. However, there seemed to be a common thread among each of their personal accounts: the clique culture was real. Julia Axtall, Class of 1942, became aware of cliques immediately upon walking through the Brewster entrance doors on her first day of high school. The prevalence of cliques tainted the experiences of many SHS alumni, Tola Textor Brehm, Class of 1952, shared that, “some don’t come to the reunions because they are afraid they won’t measure up to people’s expectations.” We at Maroon found it disheartening that the negative effects of cliques followed many SHS alumni into their adult lives.
Unfortunately, clique culture continues to be a theme at SHS today. We are all somewhat guilty of accepting the clique mentality. We go into high school expecting cliques, form new ones, sometimes out of convenience, and look the other way when traditions such as Halloween, chalking, and prom enforce cliques. The rise of technology and media makes it easier for the clique culture to thrive. Groupme, Facebook cover photos, and Snapchat stories, make it hard to escape the omnipresent exclusivity.
This sad link between current and former SHS students begs an important question: What can we do to prevent this environment of toxicity? Moreover, what can we do so that our memories of high school aren’t sullied by cliques?
We should start by drawing a distinction between a group of friends and a “clique”. Of course, it is normal and healthy to be friends with those to whom you are similar and with whom you enjoy spending time. However, a group of friends can quickly transcend into a clique when they perpetuate exclusivity. Next, we should encourage everyone to be themselves. Students should pursue their own interests and find their own voices at SHS independently of their friends. Lastly, it is important to open ourselves up to change. Through modifying SHS traditions, we can create a more inclusive environment for all students. The Class of 2017 is paving the way for a more inclusive Halloween by being the first senior class to propose a theme for student costumes. While this is a step in the right direction, and challenges traditional Halloween cliques, there is still room for growth. It is up to the next class of seniors, and the SHS student body as a whole, to continue to build upon what the Class of 2017 has started. SHS students should know that they aren’t defined by their friends. Unless we all choose to accept that, we can not move past clique culture.
Granted, Maroon does not have all the answers, and in order to find a solution, there must be a collaborative effort among the SHS student body. We welcome all students to share their ideas with the Maroon staff.
by Maroon Staff