Reflections on What Stratford America Means By: Grace Hare
Have you ever heard that…
“Football players are just dumb jocks” “You have to be popular to be cool.” “Straight ‘A’ students are geeks.” “Dancers are shallow.”
These cliches are just a few of the assumptions that color everyone’s experience in high school. We like to believe there is one word, or definition for every aspect of life. Yet, life is something deeper than that.
We call ourselves Stratford America, and to each of us, that means something different. There’s one thing that is certain about Stratford though, like our country we are diverse, and for nearly 38 hours a week, we are working together.
More than most, our football players know the importance of working as a team. They practice for 25-30 hours a week to win a game, and their team requires the contributions of everyone.
As a football player, a good student, and a kind person, sophomore Bryce Calloway knows that a strong work ethic is the leading factor to success. He believes in defeating stereotypes that portray football players in popular culture as “dumb.”
“Being an athlete you have to have good grades to play. We are competitive, but we push each other to be better, not just in sports but also academically,” Calloway said. He believes in the brotherhood of his team, and is passionate that playing football is not only a part of America’s story, but of Stratford’s.
“It’s a really good feeling (to play) because you know everyone on the team has your back. You know you guys will be brothers no matter what,” Bryce said.
Bryce believes the catchphrase “Stratford America” in talking about unity. “The meaning is we are all a part of something, a part of each other’s story.” To him, being a football player tells a tale of grit, and of character.
Football has helped Bryce’s experience in high school, helped him not only flourish in sports, but grow as a young man, into someone academically, athletically, and morally strong.
“Since the new head coach arrived he’s said, “earn the right to win,” Coach Todd Rankin has done a really good job of putting that in our mindset as far as working hard. Not only do they, the coaches, help us with our athletic ability, but they help us become people of better character,” Calloway said.
Bryce’s teachers believe that he is a person who is motivated and committed to his academics.
“I think what I appreciate about Bryce is that he works really hard. He is a dedicated student. When he is not understanding something, he will always put in the work and the effort. He’s a really smart kid,” calculus teacher Karl Poetzl said.
Another person who works hard for his goals in all aspects of his life is senior Cole Oliphant. He holds leadership positions on the swim team, in the orchestra and in student council.
In addition to working hard, Oliphant values maintaining good grades and being a positive role model to all of his peers. With that said, Oliphant does not believe in the stereotype of popularity.
To Oliphant, the stereotype of “popularity” is not being a part of an extracurricular club, it is more about what other people think of you, and how you perceive that opinion.
Oliphant believes that no one should worry about trying to be “popuar” because that means they are basing their own value on what other think of them, not what they think of themselves. “Live your own life, do what you enjoy. Don’t worry about what other people are thinking or doing,” he said.
Another hard working student is freshman Sophie Schneider who enjoys dance. As a member of the JV dance team, she doesn’t worry about the conclusions people chose to draw about JV dance and the Spartanaires. She feels that dance is expressive. It’s an art, and art should be undermined as shallow.
“The audience doesn’t see all the hard work, and often don’t figure out what we want them to see, they just the final product of the weeks of effort, that have meant a lot to a dancer,” Schneider said. The dancers work hard with a purpose, and a goal in mind. Like other athletic activities, the girls work as a team. Schneider has found a group of people that have the same interests, and values.
“You get the experience of being friends with all different types of people, and how to deal with every kind of personality,” Schneider said. She is motivated by the opportunities that are presented to her in JV dance. “I learn the skills I need to move into Spartanaires, and I meet people who have things in common with me,”she said.
Often, cheerleaders and dance teams are perceived as the mean girls, especially in high school sterotypes. Schneider speaks about how the competition isn’t against each other, and more for one another. Everyone of the squad works for the same thing, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be each other’s friends.
It means that the team is motivated by the same dreams, and inspiration. “The JV girls are some of the kindest people you can meet. Everyone is friendly, and they will never hesitate to help you,” freshman Caroline Burke said. For me, the students interviewed made one thing certain. High school is the time of our lives, where labels are most valued. However, maybe the most important less we can learn, is that people aren’t so easily defined. Maybe growing up should be about the process of accepting all kinds of people and knowing that we get to decide how to be the best version of ourselves.