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Homecoming Queen

Did anyone else see the recent movie Spider-Man: Homecoming? Besides being the first Spiderman flick to integrate the Spidey story into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the movie featured the youngest-reading Spidey to date (yeah, I know the actor is actually older than high-school-aged, but you really couldn't tell). This week's Friday Five were inspired by the film and its setting, including the high school milieu of the web-slinging nerd-boy.

Here goes!

1. What's the crime like in your neighborhood?
According to NeighborhoodScout.com, my town is in the 54th percentile of safety (that is, we're safer than just over half of the other towns and cities in the U.S.). It identifies our population as 11,733 and claims that, based on FBI stats released in 2015, there were 163 crimes here in 2014. Of those, 28 were violent and 135 against property. Statistically, that's 13.89 crimes per 1000 residents, 2.39 of them violent and 11.51 against property.

The site goes on to say, "According to our analysis of FBI crime data, your chance of becoming a victim of crime in [your city] is 1 in 72. From our analysis, we discovered that violent crime in [your city] occurs at a rate higher than in most communities of all population sizes in America. ... The rate of property crime in [your city] ... is about average for all cities and towns in America."

Trulia.com, another real estate site, lists more recent crime data but doesn't aggregate them very well. What I can see, if it's accurate, suggests that crime has gone up a bit, and that this year's assaults (so far!) outnumber thefts and acts of vandalism (put together!).

I will add that those were just the first two sites to pop up when I Googled my town's name and "crime in." I can't vouch for the data, but they don't seem impossible, either. I can attest personally to the fact that our little suburban enclave (more of a development than a proper town) isn't as safe as people pretend: about seven years ago, Number Two Son was assaulted on the bike path near the elementary school (he was a teen, though) by some older thugs who stole his cell phone. That's all they did, but it was nevertheless pretty traumatic for him, and for me. I just spent some time in my old journal's archive trying to find the post I know I wrote about it, but it doesn't seem to have survived the Purge.

2. If you could have attended one of those high schools with a specific academic focus, such as performing arts, studio arts, sustainability, science and technology, international languages and diplomacy, or some option you thought of yourself, which would you have chosen when you were thirteen?
No question: my 13-year-old self would have gone with the science and tech option, since I 100% identified as an academic nerd, and that's the kind of school one thinks of as "the nerd school." And I'm sure that choice would have made sense to my teachers, because I was particularly good at mathematics.

That said, in the light of what I went on to learn about myself both in college and in, er, life (esp. at my first job!), I do NOT think a STEM school would have been the best choice for me. Sure, as a nose-to-the-grindstone A-student, I got good grades in science throughout my school years; nevertheless, I wasn't really a science person, and I know now that I'd have had that brought home to me the hard way in a magnet-school environment. (What makes me so sure? Two of my sons put in time at the local STEM magnet, so I eventually got to see one up close and personal.) Aside from the mathematical aspects, nothing about science ever grabbed me in the way that the humanities did (and especially in the way that the humanities would do once I took philosophy and theology as an undergraduate). So NOT having the opportunity to go to a STEM magnet school might have represented, in my case, a bullet dodged. I got a decent all-around education in a regular public high school where I was able to put my effort into attainable overall academic achievement, rather than feeling super-pressured to succeed in Advanced-Placement-level classes in subjects for which I had no natural feel (I'm looking at you, physics).

(Also, there are "sustainability" high schools?)

3. What was memorable about a party you remember from high school?
Except for the cast parties of the four musicals I was in, I didn't go to any parties in high school. I gave a party, though, for myself on my 18th birthday. Many of the invitees were from the high school academic team (there's something I have in common with Peter Parker!); we'd had a good season, and I kinda felt we were celebrating that as well as my big day. So, hmmm, what was memorable about it?

What I remember best, I suppose -- and I apologize in advance for the lameness of this response -- is my delight that so many people actually came! I mean, when you give one party in your life, you sure hope there's gonna be a quorum ... and there was!

4. Which of your older relatives is (or was) the handsomest or prettiest?
You mean like Spidey's "hot" Aunt May? There was no one like that, but I think my Mom was reckoned to be good-looking. More importantly, she had a certain charisma that made her instantly appealing to a wide variety of people. I call that quality "it," and only my sister appears to have inherited it.

5. What was homecoming like at your high school? How did you feel about it?
My school was pretty new during my time (we're talking less than five years old when I started as a freshman), so there didn't exist hordes of alumni to flood home for our fall festivities. Still, Homecoming was a big deal. There was a football game, and since our team was pretty good (I believe they were state champs in their division in my first year), the town cared.

There was also a dance, and it was like an autumnal Prom. Indeed, just as there was a Prom Court from which a King and Queen were elected at that dance, so also was there Homecoming royalty. Each court had nine boys and nine girls from the senior class; however, while our Prom court was chosen 100% by the student body, their Homecoming counterparts were selected by the teachers. This meant that, though there was certainly plenty of overlap between the two sets of honorees, there were always a couple of out-and-out nerds sitting in among the popular people on the Homecoming court. And I won't lie to you (what would be the point, almost 40 years later?): when I got to be a senior, I allowed myself to nurse high hopes regarding my chances of being selected. I still think that in any other year during my era, I'd have been on that court. But in my fluke-y class, the intersection between the set of girls in the academic top 10% of the class and the cheerleading squad was unusually sizable. I guess even the teachers couldn't see their way clear to choosing a nerd with nothing else going for her.

Yeah, but why did you want to be on the Homecoming court? (I hear you ask.) Because I was a high school girl, silly, and not one who ordinarily got asked out or noticed for much besides my grades. Recall that in Question 3 above, I identified "that fact that people came" as the most memorable thing about the one party I gave for myself! So, yeah, I wanted a reason to go to that dance -- an excuse to buy a pretty dress and to have to find an escort, someone I could ask "as a friend" and who wouldn't be spooked by the request, because he'd know that people named to the court "had" to attend.

Gee, thanks, Friday Five, for stirring up that memory! I hadn't thought of it in eons. :-)


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 19th, 2017 09:19 pm (UTC)
sustainability high schools!
I live in a state with a rather large number of "public charter schools," and we're still trying to figure out how best to make it work, but several of them focus on sustainability. The regular subjects are still taught, since they are technically public schools and their grads have to have the same required credits, but subjects are taught with a sustainability focus, with lots of integrated projects, and character development that skews toward becoming a certain kind of citizen. It seems like a good idea if it can be...sustained.
Aug. 20th, 2017 01:22 pm (UTC)
I love the fact that you actually looked up the crime stats for your neighborhood. I was all, "meh, this is what people complain about on Nextdoor.com."
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )