Looking Back to the High School Cliques and Clubs

What club or clique did you belong to?

Looking back at high school, I remember so many factions of people. There were the jocks, the socials, greasers, cheerleaders, drama clubs, etc.  Many of us were divided by the social boundaries of these clubs and sometimes we rarely strayed from the people in our immediate clan. A greaser hanging with a jock? No way!

At our class reunions, as you’d assume these boundaries would have been eroded by the decades, but still they prevailed at times.  The class nerd may have accumulated billions by being smart, dedicated and focused, but he or she is still shunned at these reunions, and only given a perfunctory hello. So sad...

In high school, although I was very athletic, I remember having many types of friends, and not really belonging to any particular clique.  Some of my best friends were extremely bright, awkward, or loners.

Sure, I was a real tomboy with my jockey ways, but I was also friendly with the art crowd, the music buffs, and even those in the rifle club.  I was voted Class Clown, but there wasn’t a club for that. Those of us who enjoyed throwing tissue onto the ceiling in the bathrooms were in a class by themselves.

It was interesting to see where these groups usually sat in class.  Usually the better students sat toward the front, arms popping up at every question.  Those who were rebels sat toward the rear of the room, probably so they could ditch class if there was a fire drill.

I usually sat toward the middle front. I wasn’t bright enough to get all the questions right, but I was an eager and participatory student. Sometimes people would try to copy off my tests.  I guess that’s a compliment.

When my sisters and brothers attended NHHS, there were a variety of social clubs. My brother Jack belonged to the Caballeros. I heard about many painful hazing rituals that were a rite of passage. 

I believe my sister Lynn was a Charlatan, but I seem to recall that she really wanted to join the Vagabonds, which had all the cool girls.

In college, these clubs matured into sororities and fraternities, which weren’t popular when I was in school, except for a socialist community called Das Institute that embraced many of the political platforms related to the Vietnam War.

But in subsequent years, I guess these clubs came back into fashion, giving students a sense of belonging to something, like an extended family of sorts.  But I always wondered if they instilled a bit of elitism or separation by isolating people into a social hierarchy. And for those who were never admitted into these clubs, I'm sure it was a painful experience.

What clubs or cliques did you belong to, and did you join a sorority or fraternity in college?  If so, feel free to share your experience here on the Patch.

teresa mcgrath November 27, 2012 at 03:12 PM
great article mary....forgot about the caballeros, charlatans, and vagabonds of hal, jim, lynn, and jack's days....intense political and upheaval dotted our days at nhhs, and as you pointed out, the various groups were very active...the cliques were established, and many of us were outsiders, or embraced a combo of the arts, greasers, jocks, soches, etc...back at walter reed junior high, the cliques were very strong, and at nhhs, the climate of being an individual oozed through those groups...bullying was evident, and many sought refuge in the various clubs...all the hippie, peace, love, and understanding helped with toning down the meaness to some degree...we had the l.a. teacher's strike in approximately 1970 or 1971, and if your teacher was a member of those striking, and there wasn't a scab available, you hung out front with all the other classmates....i choose to skip 3rd yr spanish with mrs dunwoody-sp?- as we were translating don quixote, and the politics of discussion beckoned me to the front lawn...i received a D in spanish due to that choice...
Betsy Cutter November 27, 2012 at 04:30 PM
I went to a girls' high school and the cliques were based on how much money your folks had. Since mine had to budget pretty tightly for me to go there, the friends I had were pretty much in the same boat as myself, and they were good friends, too. We were encouraged to think for ourselves and we had some of the same problems as public schools. In college, I made extra money working in the horse barn and the girls in my dorm excluded me, unless they wanted to ride, and then they were syrupy to me. I always said no, LOL. I also worked as a tutor to those athletic gentlemen who had to pass biology or lose their scholarships. I did find some wonderful other "outcasts," if you will, and they were solid and true. We were varied in tastes and lifestyles and some of our outings looked like a Captain Morgan's rum commercial. I was never one of the frou-frou girls and it has never bothered me.
Mary McGrath November 27, 2012 at 05:13 PM
I was always an athlete, but seemed to know everyone, at least superficially. I did run for Homecoming Queen as a joke, but in general, I usually felt like an outsider with those groups of women who could make a young girls' life pretty miserable. Thanks for you input Betsy and Teresa.
teresa mcgrath November 27, 2012 at 10:20 PM
sure....being an outcast was preferred, it was tough to be pigeon-holed...betsy, like the attitude you adopted for high school...mary, i forgot you ran as a joke...too much..
Mary McGrath November 27, 2012 at 10:39 PM
It was always easier for me to deal with uncomfortable situations by utilizing humor. The girls were very cruel to both Teresa and I when we were at summer camp when we were nine...
Penelope Gamble November 28, 2012 at 02:49 AM
I wasn't cruel in school (jr. high), but I did sell cigarettes on the playground. In high school I tried to be tough by hanging out with Puerto Rican girls and even "wore" a pearl handled switchblade in my hair. And to think I grew up and had six children of my own. God has a sense of humor...
Doug Gale November 28, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Kingsmen, Athenians & Caballeros were the three top guys clubs.
teresa mcgrath November 28, 2012 at 02:31 PM
never will forget that camp yalani for the camp fire girls....the positive deal, was on the last day at the pool, we made a friend....go figure...the pearl handled switchblade and selling cigs, love it...what we all did to fit in...
Mary McGrath November 29, 2012 at 05:34 PM
In junior high, there was a tough girl who wanted to meet me after school under the tunnel for a fight...I declined...Even though I was athletic, I wasn't tough..she was pretty scary!
Kim Phillips-Clark December 10, 2012 at 04:01 PM
My sisters and I all belonged to the Puf's. 2 of us stayed in till the end and my youngest sister decided it really wasn't for her. I learned and grew tremondously during that time and learned from the mistakes I made. We had many community outreach organizations we helped. I always shared a locker with my best friend Sally, for whatever reason, she never made it into a club and kept friends outside of the club also. All-in-all, it was a good growth experience, but one I didn't want to repeat in college. I'm thankful for the friends I was able to make during that time. beep, beep beep..............


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