Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Labeling.

Two thirds of the way through most summers, I start to feel like I am wearing the same thing every single day.  This is okay, because my family rarely notices the repetition in my wardrobe, and I'm okay with the temporary nature of summer shirts -- they get washed frequently, and they often fall victim to stains from drippy fruits, eating on the run, and, well, you get the idea.  So last week when the new Gabriel Brothers opened in Lancaster, I splurged ($4 a piece!) on three bright shirts.

Today, I had a meeting at the high school, and decided to break out my "decent" clothes, so I put on the lime green shirt -- actually blew my hair dry, put makeup on, and even remembered to glam up with rings and earrings.  I was out in public for a total of more than five hours.

And not one single person, until my husband noticed it when he got home, pointed out the size label sticker on the front of my shirt.   Did nobody else notice?  Or has the entire town just chalked me up to being that eccentric?

When I reflected upon this phenomenon, I realized that I could chalk it up, once again, to the amazingness of small-town Lancaster County living, where very few people impose -- or recognize -- labels.

 Labeling.

It may seem odd that a Teacher of the Gifted, who requires a specific caseload of students identified as gifted to justify her employment, would suggest that labels seem to hold little value in her community.  I graduated from a high school nearly 100 miles away from where I live now, with nearly 1000 other students in my graduating class.  There were plenty of the usual subsets:  BandGeeks, Jocks, Brainiacs, Thespians, Nerds, Potheads -- the list went on and on.  The subsets defined themselves by who they ate lunch with, and the participants rarely transcended one group into another.  

The same can not be said for my current high school.  I marvel at the seamless transitions of field hockey players rushing off to Student Council, soccer players changing clothes in the back of a minivan on the way to a marching band performance, and quizbowl contestants working to perfect an AP Studio Art project in the studio after school.  Is it because there aren't enough kids to fill all the spaces necessary to make a high school hum?  Hardly.   Is it the newly-defined 21st Century school?  I doubt it.

I'd like to think it has something to do with the overwhelming bombardment of anti-bullying, social awareness, and transparent nature of the techno-social-media society in which these kids live.

Or maybe I really do live in Mount Joy -- originally named for a ship that broke through a river blockade in Ireland in 1688, that has broken through its own blockade of critical labeling and now celebrated as a place where happiness transcends labels. 

My wish is for this same magic to transcend other high schools as well!