Bishop’s is a bubble, a bubble in which I have no fear of gun violence or personal harm. A bubble in which I feel free, and often compelled, to question sources, peers, and authority. A bubble where I can develop my own ideas and work through them with instructors and classmates. Efforts to push Bishop’s into the ‘regular’ world by creating artificial inputs and inorganic circumstances, just doesn’t work. And though it does not work, the powers that be, in an effort to incorporate educational buzz words, continue to foist these same words and ideas upon the school in the hope that some prospective donor or parent will notice.
In the eighth grade, Bishop’s required all students to buy an $800 iPad. We needed to integrate technology into our curriculum to better prepare us for the technologically dependent world ahead, at least that’s what they said. I brought my iPad for the first few weeks in an attempt to comply with the requirement. I soon gave that up: it remained heavy on my shoulder and never left the dark cave of my backpack. My notebook, however, grew thick with notes. I graphed on innovative paper instead of using Desmos, and I conversed with my classmates at lunch rather than playing Clash of Clans. I sat in the library and watched group after group of prospective parents drool as the tour guide expounded on the glory of technology at Bishop’s. The school’s de facto poster child, or rather the female that had jumped on the STEM bandwagon, came to me often for help in conceptual – referred to in our family as “baby”– physics. This same teenage girl started in my math class before dropping down to core – again “baby” (aren’t we mature) – math. But lo, her picture appeared on the Bishop’s website, Instagram and promotional brochures. Bishop’s needed to promote the newest craze – Females in STEM. They failed to notice, or more likely ignored, the fact that she was nothing more than a talkative faux. Technology in the absence of intelligence means nothing.
How ‘diverse’ can we really be if we are required to buy an $800 dollar iPad and spend $37,000 on tuition? Recently we had a Black woman come to chapel to talk to us about race’s influence on language. Before the lecture, my friend and I discussed our upcoming Stat test. I talked to my friend, my classmate, my common lover of Disney movies, my advisory buddy, my fellow hater of sour cream and mayo. Right before the speaker took the stage, the school’s head of Diversity pulled my friend aside and made her sit right in front of the podium, with a different group of kids – all the Black kids in high school. She looked at me and laughed, “I guess I have to sit over there since you know, I’m Black.” It never crossed my mind that she was Black because to me she was so much more than the color of her skin. But apparently to Bishop’s she was not. The school’s inorganic attempt to acknowledge Blackness created a physical distance between her and myself – dare I say segregated her. By doing so, the school forced both of us to recognize our differences, our otherness. Instead of creating a diverse community, the school, which strives so hard and falls all too short, created the opposite, an us-v-them mentality, the spectator and the spectacle. It was so disturbing that I called my mother immediately after the event.
A Different Kind Of Cool
Bishop’s – obviously before reading my informative and well-argued blog post – produced and distributed an ad with the focus on “a different kind of cool”. Instead of displaying the school I attend every day, the board and administrators seemed to have found another school. A school, eerily similar to Bishop’s, also located in La Jolla, with the same uniforms…weird. At this new-and-improved Bishop’s they created in their large, dimly lit boardroom (aren’t all boardrooms dimly lit), a seemingly diverse student body. How ever did they find that many students of that many racial, ethnic, economic, political, and geographical backgrounds!? The students appear, although I cannot say for certain, happy and genuine, unconcerned with getting into the best colleges to appease teachers and parents and – most importantly – to do better than their “best friend”. These perfect students “care about what’s happening in the world” while real Bishop’s students care if Ariana Grande drops a new single, or a tenth grader posts a rap about “shit in the hood”. And I would like to add that if La Jolla is a hood, it’s the hood on the cape a celebrity wears down the red carpet whilst Johnny Weir gushes at its beauty and extravagance! These different kind of cool kids, who always seem to look off-screen at a cue card, claim to ‘hangout’ with authors and Condalezza Rice. I got within 50 feet of Caroline Kennedy last year, the distance from her podium to my seat in the bleachers. If that’s ‘hanging out’ I’d hate to see what their parties are like. I guess it makes sense though; if the board and administrators wanted to the show the real Bishop’s experience, the real school and maybe scare away a few potential students whose fathers or mothers or both may, or may not, own multinational corporations, they would’ve filmed it at the Bishop’s I know. Instead, they created their own school, a mirror of all the ideals and buzzwords they have tried not-so-subtly to stuff into it. The biggest, and most annoying, difference between these two schools is in the images of the new-and-improved Bishop’s, its always sunny! What’s up with that?
I know I sound like I hate Bishop’s, but I do love it. I usually keep my uniform on well after school, because I am proud and honestly its pretty comfortable. I am extremely fortunate to go to Bishop’s and I appreciate the opportunity to learn from engaged teachers. It has been a great place and I would not want to go anywhere else. And really who else can say they went to the same school as a Versace’s murderer?