High School Then vs Now

March 12, 2020

Everyone’s life moves at an outrageously fast pace. But, even as life progresses, everyone remembers their high school experience. When looking back at MHS and the change it has undergone over the years, some may not recognize it when reminiscing.

Let’s jump all the way back to 1960. The high school was located where John R. Wooden Middle School is today. Teens had fun and were challenged academically, but they were also prepared for the real world. The teachers were always “dressed up,” as if they worked in a corporate office. Girls wore skirts and blouses, or sweaters, to school almost every day. When interviewing my grandma, MHS grad Judy Staggs, class of ‘64, she said there was definitely an unspoken dress code. 

Classes were harder and teachers were more strict about academics and behaviors, according to her. She and her friends were very social. They had chili suppers before football games and slumber parties afterward. During the summers, they went to drive-in movies and went on late night drives with friends. Students never experienced a snow day or two-hour delay. Seniors finished school a week before everyone else; they named the week “senior week.” Senior week included a senior picnic and tea at the state park. 

Let’s jump forward to 1984. Kristi Staggs Casey, my mom, had just entered high school.  There was no social media at all. If you wanted to talk to your friends for hours, you would have to use a landline phone. In her generation, there were seven periods in a school day. Teens parked in different sections of the parking lots based on their friend groups. 

Friday nights were regularly spent at football or basketball games, and groups would often go out for pizza afterward. The most popular pastime was driving around town with your friends. Back then, the McDonald’s parking lot was the hot spot for high schoolers. 

There was just as much stress when it came to testing, though. Coincidentally, Casey took a Beginning Foods class in the same room that she now teaches Human and Social Services in. Most of her after school time was spent in the music suite. She participated in show choir, madrigals, and musicals. Her first job was at Martinsville’s very own Inside Scoop. Casey graduated in 1988 and has made it full circle. 

Lastly, let’s bring it back to the 2019/2020 school year. I am a senior in high school, about to cross the stage where the rest of my family once has. I spend most of my own time hanging out with my best friends and writing stories and songs. I am a member of the Martinsville Dance Team. 

We spend our free time driving around town, seeing just how many times we can visit Walmart in a single day.  Other teens sit at home making videos on Tik Tok or editing their newest Instagram photo to perfection. 

However, some similarities can be found between now and then. On weekends, teens often decide to hang out with their friends.

Teens nowadays don’t focus as much on school anymore. Most of their time is occupied by social media, even if teachers and parents stress that school should the main focus. Honestly, if you compare the world now to then, teens are less prepared for real life than ever. 

Even though life is very different now, high school is still a time for everyone to cherish, good or bad. High school has always been a time to spend with friends, and it is where you might find your forever best friends. You may even find the person that you spend the rest of your life with. One day, our own children may attend the same school you did and be able to make memories to last a lifetime, just like you did. Overall, high school has changed over the past sixty years, but there will always be a special place in everyone’s hearts for the experience they had in it. 


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