Class of 1981

school1I was born in 1963. I graduated from High School in 1981. I grew up outside a city of 150,000 but spent most of my time “growing up” in a wee town on the edge of that city. Being born in ’63 means I am not a boomer, not a buster, not an Xer. I am part of all of those and I am none of those. I’m modern and post modern. I am a jumbled set of conflicting perspectives and experiences.

My class, the one I graduated with, was an incredible collection of tribes, a random sampling of the human condition. The wisdom of the day divided us into 4 distinct academic groups and we travelled through junior and senior high (grades 7-12) that way. We were given the letter designations A, B, C and D. Coupled with the grade level and you had 8A, 8B and so on. “A” meant you were university bound and expected to achieve pretty good marks. “B” was also university bound but marks weren’t expected to be quite as high, “C” was mostly people going into trades, not expected to go to uni and not expected to engage academically. “D” was, well, remember the Sweat Hogs? No? “D” was not going to Uni, not grade motivated and potentially not graduating.

There was tremendous bias at our school and the ABC’s only highlighted that. I’ve often wondered how many of us were conscious of the system we’d been jammed in to. How much did that selection pre-condition how we saw and related to one another? We divided ourselves (or were divided by some external but unseen force) into tribes: jocks, rah-rahs, brains, nerds, burnouts, FFAers, etc. Each group had its own unique divisions and sub-cultures.

The bias extended into how you were treated or judged by teachers and admin at the school as well. I remember an English teacher at the high school who intercepted a bottle of alcohol from some of the Rah-Rahs (female athletic supporters), As and Bs, who came to school lit. She, the teach, took the bottle and hid it in her desk and protected the girls from getting busted and suspended. It was all for the sake of the school, what was a basketball game without cheerleaders anyway? The bottom line, if you were hot, drove a nice car mommy & daddy gave you and were headed to Uni, you could kill and get absolution. God help you if you were in C or D and they caught you smoking in the bathroom – 6 feet from the teacher’s lounge where you could get your fix just by standing in the doorway and breathing in the second hand smoke. (Yep, teachers smoking in the school building, I’m THAT old…)

We were a class of great promise. Free of Viet Nam and all the conflict of that generation, survivors of the disco era, children of the first age of Reaganomics. What have we become? Have our class/tribe issues followed us into the real world? Have we mastered the drugs and alcohol we consumed or have they consumed us? Several of my old school mates are AAers now – and I count that a good thing – and some never made it out of ’81. We were a sexually liberated generation – or at least sexually active – has that freed us or left marks we can never get rid of like the blood on the hands of that Macbeth chick we had to read about and get tested on? I remember my grad prom, one couple in particular, dancing the Lambada – or at least it looked like a forbidden dance – many of us watching suspected that one of them would be pregnant before the song ended. What’s the average been on our committed relationships? I can’t help thinking of “40 years of psycho therapy” and the world’s just gotten crazier.

So where are we now? How are we doing? If you’ve read this far, can you help me out? Can you get everyone/anyone you know who graduated in 1981 to stop by here and take a second to leave an answer on my poll? If you help me out I promise I’ll pass the results along and we can analyze the data together. Yeah, clearly I was in the “nerd posse”.


About brianmpei

Stumbling towards what comes next.
This entry was posted in education, Friends, getting old, Life, perception, questions, Reflective, school, Teachers, yearbook and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Class of 1981

  1. Yves says:

    I can’t help thinking of “40 years of psycho therapy” and the world’s just gotten crazier.


  2. shellie says:

    Funny… your description of 1981 sounds like the same one I lived! 🙂 I have absolutely no recollection of the letter system after our grade number, though. I think I should just check myself into the Alzheimer’s Unit now and get it over with! More and more, I begin to be aware that I don’t remember much about high school probably because I don’t think I cared enough about what was going on around me. A sad indictment of my own self-centeredness, I’m afraid.

    As for your poll, I’d be glad to click on one of your choices, but I’m not sure if you want me to answer the question based on myself or what I perceive happened to our class in general. Those would be two very different answers. 🙂

    I had to laugh at the term “rah rah”… Haven’t heard that one in years! And since I hung around with you, does that mean I was part of a “nerd posse”?? Here I would disagree with you… I was a GEEK, not a nerd!! :p

  3. brianmpei says:

    Shellie – was thinking about you yesterday, wondering if you and boys were enjoying a snow day.

    I should clarify (or tell the truth) the letter system was overt in junior high and a little more subtle in high school – so you probably wouldn’t remember it. Once we hit “electives” the number system lost it’s power. There were some classes in high school we were told we “had” to take if we were Uni bound or we “shouldn’t” take if we were Uni bound.

    The “Nerd” designation my be – probably is – my own chosen term. I really don’t think the “Rah-Rahs” called themselves that and I doubt most groups knew, necessarily, what they were called by others. So “GEEK” is as good as a “NERD” but I don’t think you were stuck with either one. You went with a guy who was a jock, a year ahead of us and drove a cool car – sort of a “get out of nerdom free” card. But like it or not, you were part of the posse!

    I could tell more stories from RHS but would have to change a lot of details so I can still go to a reunion some day without fear that someone read my blog!

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