Gunn cliques, environment prevent true party culture

Ryan Manesh, Business Manager and Sports Editor

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Written by Ryan Manesh

From a young age, every movie I saw that had a high school portrayed it with the same stereotypes. The school was always ruled by a jock—generally, a football player—and anyone who prioritized schoolwork was always depicted as a nerd with little to no social life. However, the biggest thing I seemed to notice throughout all these movies was the large emphasis on the high school party culture.

These stereotypes definitely did not apply to my high school experiences. When I came to Gunn, I knew that it would in no way represent the traditional stereotypes of high school. Even before I started my time here, it was rarely advertised as a fun school or a party school. Instead, telling people I was going to Gunn generally elicited a worried face or a reminder of what a high-pressured environment the school would be. I would always hear people rave about the school’s academics rather than its social activities.

The difference in our school’s party culture compared to other schools, such as Menlo-Atherton High School, became obvious to me at the beginning of my sophomore year. While talking to one of my friends who had transferred to Menlo-Atherton, they could not stop boasting about the “elite” parties that people at their school would throw. To be fair, our demographic definitely does not match the party school theme; our school has been dubbed the type of school to flex SAT scores at a basketball game.

However, despite our affiliation with academics, our school certainly has a party culture. I have experienced plenty of kickbacks thrown by all sorts of different people. Kickbacks are generally more toned-down, laid back parties predominantly made up of smaller groups of friends. These kickbacks also tend to be invite-only between close friend groups, causing fewer people to find out about them and come.

This feeds into Gunn’s “clique-like” culture. From my own and many of my friends’ personal experiences, we have witnessed the disunity within classes and disparity with people in other grades. Petty quarrels and unnecessary “beef” have prevented any true unity between groups, which in turn doesn’t allow for big parties. Due to this disparity, it is unlikely that a true “party culture” will develop at Gunn in the foreseeable future.

From what I saw in my freshman year, the upperclassmen always seemed to throw relatively big parties and social gatherings. These parties got less and less common as time went on. The last grade to throw these large social functions was last year’s class of 2019. Again, I noticed that the similarity that all these grades had, at least from an outsider’s perspective, was the unity found within the class. It doesn’t mean that everyone loved each other, like some weird hippie cult, but everyone seemed to be accepting of who was there. No one would let someone they didn’t like get in the way of their having a good time and no one wanted to ruin someone else’s good time.

But division in a grade can’t be the only barrier to unleashing Gunn’s inner party culture. Over time, students could have become less attracted to the illicit behaviors that go with party culture. Maybe parents have become smarter about allowing people to have big groups of friends over. There are endless possible explanations for why the party culture at Gunn isn’t as extravagant as it could be, but for the underclassmen’s sakes, I am excited to see what happens to it.