When I was a young man, I attended a huge high school in the sprawling suburbs of a major city. The student body numbered in thousands, rather than the tens or hundreds. It was quite competitive and highly rated, but by the groups who rate such things, but it was a for many of us attending it was a chore.
The place was old and dingy. The rooms had a bizarre numbering system that was impossible to out, the food was godawful usually, and for at least a couple semesters I was assigned a lunch in which no one was present that I really had much interest in talking to. Furthermore, I had to wake up and report to this place well before my biological clock was ready to, and I was generally surrounded by kids whose families gave them more money than mine. At the time there was some really dumb stuff going on in our culture to. I don’t feel like giving away my age to much, but while there was some excellent music and television coming out at the time, there was a lot of genuinely atrocious stuff, that everyone my age was expected to be into, that I still think is stupid to this day.
That said, it was not all bad. I had a loyal group of friends, and was on generally good terms with people from other groups. Additionally I had young women in nearly all my classes that I was interested in and generally got on well with, and by the end of most days I was having an ok time. I had some classes I enjoyed and learned quite a bit in, and some I disliked and learned little in, but during any given hour I would very likely have rather been some where else doing something else.
I was in no way reporting to this building everyday because I wanted to, but because I was not given any choice about it. While I did have classes I looked forward to generally speaking, it was not what I wanted to do with my time. I would think that most of my peers felt this way and I know from speaking to them that at least on some level many of them did. While I think learning and interacting with others is fun, nothing takes the fun out of anything like making it compulsory (not to mention making it early in the morning).
This is why the notion of school loyalty and school spirit always struck me as a lame. I really did not feel the need to be loyal or enthusiastic in any way to an institution I was forced to attend. This was made worse by the fact that some of the teachings did not strike me as completely honest, like the anti-drug segments that exaggerated the risks of marijuana use and the health class where the teacher pleaded with us to refrain from having sex until we were married, because to do otherwise may embarrass our future spouses.
It seemed that much of the institution’s focus was on molding us into a product and standardizing us and I did not see why this was something we should be celebrating. I was especially frustrated with student government, which largely struck me as a popularity contest, to convince us, we had a choice as to what was going on. It seemed to me that no matter who was elected none of the things I disliked the most about the place ever changed because it was the administration who actually ran thing. Over all the types who ran for student office seemed like tools just looking to pad their future resume.
Maybe, my experience was different from others but I really felt little to no particular loyalty or zeal for my school attending it was largely something I was forced to do before getting on with the rest of my life. Perhaps others experienced it differently (my younger brother for example, became a star athlete and developed a good bit of school spirit). To this day, I question the healthiness of being expected to enjoy, celebrate or show loyalty to an institution we are given no choice but attend. Aside from it being petty, trivial, tribal and jingoist, it strikes me as being very much like Stockholm Syndrome, the condition in which kidnapped people develop affection for their captors.