A Public Schooler’s Perception of Latin

By Olivia Baker unnamed-4 Upon questioning a Latin student if they attend our school, a sense of snark is frequently elicited when confirming our response: “You go to Latin?” Private schools seem to possess a certain aura to others— a conglomerate of privilege, knowledge, and wealth that, more often than not, doesn’t apply to all private schools and their students. But how, specifically, do public-schooled students perceive us, and how does this vary from how we see ourselves? Students from various public schools in the metropolitan area shared their thoughts on the general topic. Despite the notion of individuality and the way in which we view ourselves as students, many assume an array of clichés linked to private-school kids— snobby, indolent, and cocky. One would assume our public school counterparts would accept these stereotypical expectations as a fact, which, in some cases, is the truth. For others, however, their understanding seems to be different. A senior at Highland Park High School claims that societal opinions “mislead” the image of privately educated students as “lazy,” with the financial ability to “pay their way to the top.” Personally knowing the students, she also claims, helps determine a pure judgment on who they are rather than the impressions based on the school they attend. Being introduced to the possibilities of our futures in such early stages of our high school careers, competitiveness is a major aspect of our culture. It’s an “intellectually-based” competitiveness, as another Highland Park senior claims— “because [our] future is always an option to [us].” To vie on the means of knowledge is certainly an actuality at this school, but social rivalry is more prevalent, according to a Whitney Young student. Built from the platform of wealth, she views Latin kids as “pretentiously-competitive” and “definitely not afraid to show what wealth has provided for them. [Social] competition comes along with that— who has better things, and can show them off in more ways.” To perpetuate a “privileged education,” Latin students must “act and show themselves in a specific way as well— one that maintains their private schooled statuses.” For some of us, the private-school social system is the only one we know— but what makes our civil approach distinct from others? A Whitney Young student, who previously attended private school before high school, noticed vast social conduct differences between her previous and current education environments— “I think private schooled kids are very privileged but don’t really know. They don’t really see the world outside of the little bubble they live in. They don’t really understand what life is like outside of how they’ve lived no matter how long they have been attending the school.” Being a relatively small school, our collective as students is seemingly exclusive, which contributes to the manner in which we have lived our lives. Our community, in a broader sense, including the establishments around us, have modified, benefitted, and suffered from our presence— for instance, the process of constructing the controversial Lincoln Park turf several years ago caused a rift between Latin and the surrounding neighborhood. On the other hand, we create an abundance of business to the enterprises just across the street. We do, indeed, live and learn in a sort of “bubble,” one that will conform our ways of thinking, how we interact, and who we find ourselves interacting with. The way others view us should challenge how we see ourselves as students, and must force us to ask ourselves if we are pretentious and over-privileged. What we all, as students, have in common is the ability to learn. Our education is different than that of public school kids, as are our social methodologies and expectations for each other, but no matter the school, public or private, we must accept each other without the masking presence of privilege and stereotypes and see one another as equals.]]>