Generational gaps evoke judgement


Grace Vance

“They park in front of our fire hydrants; they block our streets; they come back in our lot and smoke dope. We’ve run people out of the trees by our buildings when they were having sex. They’ve set two fires already under the tree by our building… The rich kids out here have a whole lot to do with their time.”
Or so it was decreed by a Tribune article from 2001. These things and more were said about RBHS students during the time 2004 alumni Todd Gingrich was in high school, but is this viewpoint a common thread throughout each generation?
In Gingrich’s opinion, this cliché of high school students was the opposite of his experience.
I definitely never fit those stereotypes…  I did the usual things — read math books for fun, [taught] myself physics in Mr. Smith’s room after school, [played] some tennis, etc,” Gingrich said. “I also built a hovercraft with my friends and played quite a lot of Trivial Pursuit…  I was a pretty typical math/science nerd.”
For 1991 alumni and parent to freshman Angela Pigg, “egocentric” and “self absorbed” were the words of her generation — though she didn’t see it that way.
“They thought we were selfish. I remember thinking that adults didn’t think we had any work ethic. I think they looked at us as more lazy than they were, which is so funny because I totally don’t see it that way,” Pigg said. “I look at my daughter and I think, ‘My God, she does so much more than I ever did.’ [Her] generation just has so much more to handle. There is more being thrown at you, so much more to absorb than I ever had to. It’s funny because I don’t look at you guys as being lazy, I look at [it as,] ‘Maybe we were the lazy generation.’”
[quote cite=”Helen Keithahn”]I think high schoolers right now are often [looked] down upon because of our use of things that are fairly new to older generations such as smartphones and tablets.[/quote] At the time, Pigg was the manager of the baseball team and an avid participant of the children’s theater class — leading her to be against the older generation’s view that she and her peers were lazy. Today, the same reasons that drove her to challenge those views are what she uses to understand her children’s social environment.
“When I’m at RBHS now, I wouldn’t say it’s a lot different. It is such a melting pot of different personalities, and I remember that when I was there, too,” Pigg said. “You would just have such a wide variety of different people with different interests. It doesn’t seem to me like it’s that much different of a culture than it was when I was there.”
Junior Helen Keithahn, who came from a private school with small classes that lacked diversity, said in some ways RBHS has been the perfect antidote to the lack of culture. With events like Global Village, she believes RBHS helps students appreciate the different cultures that reside within the school.
Because of her experience at other schools, she believes every era of adolescents at RBHS has had a similar likening to cultures. Even though each generation has their obvious differences, she said there are also common threads — which make it normal for older generations to criticize young people.
“I think high schoolers right now are often [looked] down upon because of our use of things that are fairly new to older generations such as smartphones and tablets,” Keithahn said. “It’s unfortunate that people sometimes don’t take high schoolers seriously because high school is the time when it’s important for students to work hard and think critically to plan for their future.”
Whether it’s a perception of roudiness, a lack of motivation or “too technology centric”, Pigg said generational gaps that evoke judgement on adolescents will always be present, despite its change in appearance.
“The same reason why there’s such diversity at RBHS, I think that there’s diversity in every single generation that’s going to lead it… If I look at the past, it seems to me like it’s just repeating itself,” Pigg said. “It doesn’t seem to me like any generation is going down an any worse path. Maybe yes, as a society [people are] making choices that is putting us down a [bad] path, but I wouldn’t say one generation [is at fault.]”