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The Nova Popularity System

    As a teenager, I’m often asked about popularity. Who’s in the “It Crowd”? Who would you say is the most popular? It’s hard to answer questions about popularity because no one is really seen as popular. We have the Theater Kids, the Freshman and Transfer Crowd who will either stay that way or turn into a different crowd, The Emos, Fashion Snobs, Smokers, Stoners, Art Kids, Popular Kids, Jocks, the Sporty Boys and Their Girlfriends, and the Anime Geeks. Some of the groups are seen as higher or lower class than others; the Freshman and Transfers for example, are the lowest rung on the group ladder.

    It’s not the Freshman and Transfer Crowd’s fault. Freshman are seen as the loudest, most publically sexual, and immature group of any of us. There is the occasional freshman who can break out of this and join a different group, and normally they do. The lucky transfers will also distance themselves from the rowdy freshman and find their way to a different group. The reason why the transfers get grouped in with the freshmen because they are the new faces of Nova and they get pushed in with the other new faces. If it’s not immediately obvious that you’re a transfer, that’s where you go.

    The next group up are the kids who don’t have groups. Not having a group is fine, it actually saves you a lot of trouble. You don’t have to buy birthday presents, holiday gifts, etc. and you don’t have to worry about anyone other than yourself. Nonetheless, they’re generally seen as not popular, though no one is really popular.

    After them are The Emos. They tend to be quiet and not interfere with other groups, so everyone else tries to leave them alone. The Emos don’t harm anyone and aren’t know for doing anything publically sexual, which sometimes makes them better than Sporty Boys and Their Girlfriends who are occasionally caught doing something gross in the middle of the hall.

    Which leads us to the Sporty Boys and Their Girlfriends. You wouldn’t think that they would be so unpopular because they carry themselves as if they’re near the top, but they put themselves down there during their freshman year of terror and their continuation of that by accepting members who aren’t afraid to do overtly sexual things in the hallways. What I’m really saying is, don’t do overtly sexual things and you’ll be more popular.

    Right in the middle we have the Theater Kids, Anime Geeks, Smokers, and Stoners. They are there because they don’t make an effort to be popular, have giant school gatherings, or don’t do much. The Theater Kids are putting on a play, which I am the lead in, but it’s not like at West Seattle or Garfield, our play will be created out of passion for the stage, not publicity or just one more thing to add to a resume. The Anime Geeks are cool, quiet, and calm. They enjoy attending Tristan classes, include people who don’t like anime, and sometimes take part in Guild. The Smokers really only care about graduating and normally stay in the middle, but when school board officials come around or a smoker is caught doing something stupid, they are dropped out of the middle range. The Stoners care even less about popularity and are normally great artists, though they don’t want you to know that. They don’t cause any drama, and they normally don’t continue any of it.

    And the Popular Kids. They don’t seem like the typical popular kids, and they likely wouldn’t admit or know that they’re popular, but I feel certain in giving them the title of the Popular Kids. Most of them enjoy nontraditional sports like roller derby and ultimate disk, though there are some non-athletic people in their group. The Popular Kids enjoy philosophical debates, poetry, astrology, thrift shopping, second hand clothes, card games, and eating food from the International District. They’re also more on top of school than some of the other groups and are friends of a few teachers. Sometimes they befriend teachers by eating lunch in the teacher’s classroom. I haven’t heard a lot of drama from the Popular Kids and they’re generally nice people, though the people who try to get into their group can be rude to outsiders. That’s likely the reason why they aren’t a Popular Kid. Though they are liked by most, their group consists of a lot of blond, and they like shopping, they are far from your typical “It Crowd”. You won’t see Nova’s social elites teasing or bullying lowerclassmen, instead you should expect them to read other students’ astrology charts, introduce them to the best thrift shops and food establishments in the International District, and give you advice on different liberal arts colleges.

    The Fashion Snobs should be the most popular of all the groups but they don’t have the energy for it. Who does? Instead, they go to Nordstrom's Rack and spread awareness around wasting clothes and how bad it is for the environment. The pictures that they post online suggest that they should go into modelling, but no one would blame them if modelling “isn’t their thing”.

    Second to the top are the Jocks which consist of now one or two seniors. Last year there were three, but they’re slowly graduating and leaving the Nova community. The Jocks don’t care about popularity and really just want to have a typical high school career while being at an alternative school. They love Terrance and Mike more than anything other than sports and they’ve participated in The Bombardment Society.

    The highest of the groups is the Art Kids group. They spend a lot of time with Karen, Terrance, and Tristan. Like the Jocks, the Art Kids are slowly fading away through graduation. There’s a chance that their group will be picked up again by younger students. The Art Kids are the most popular, in my mind, because they care the least about popularity and drama. They have the tightest knit group that, as far as I can tell, still spends time together even after they’ve graduated.

    The most interesting thing, at least to me, about how our groups work is that we don’t act on it. In traditional schools there are rivals and groups that don’t like each other and people get hurt, but our groups just exist. And other people think that some groups are higher up on the food chain, everyone has their own ideas of who belongs in what group, people belong to multiple groups. I think that because we allow our groups to flow and change we make room for peace and a sense of community. None of us are living up to the standards of the people of the groups before us because there’s no driving need to. We’re creating our own standards for our new set of people.