High school: a musical madness


Anna Marquardt, co-features editors

I always wanted high school to be just like a musical.

I wanted to wake up, sing good morning to the birds, and dance through the school hallways in matching outfits with my best friends. After all, my years of pressing play on High School Musical, Annie, and Disney princess films had taught me one thing: musicals are filled with constant happiness, love, and music. Perfect stories about perfect people. 

Now, as a senior, I am coming to realize that my high school experience was nothing like the musicals I grew up loving. Between the pandemic that confined me to my home for over a year, to the friendships I lost, and the lack of motivation I sometimes felt, high school, at times, was messy and confusing. 

But, as I grew and changed, so too did my taste in musicals. I stopped focusing on musicals that showcased nothing but pure happiness, and instead immersed myself in shows that were relatable to the ebb and flow of my daily life, and I found great comfort in that. 

Towards the end of my freshman year, I became infatuated with Beetlejuice, a musical about a girl who befriends a distasteful demon amidst grieving the loss of her mother. Then Dear Evan Hansen, which follows a teenage boy whose crippling anxiety shakes up a whole community after a classmate takes his own life. And worth mentioning is my all-time favorite musical, Jagged Little Pill, which includes themes of addiction, sexual assault, and racism. 

As I have continued to dive deeper into the world of musicals, it has become increasingly clear that the stories they tell–and often sing and dance about–are not as black and white as I once believed them to be. While some musicals, like the ones I had known pre-high school, are perfectly joyful and feel-good from beginning to end, others can be complicated and quite glum.

My high school musical includes all of the beautiful memories I made in my time as a Titan. And, with just a few days until the lights dim and curtains close, I am able to reflect on the irreplaceable experiences I have had with my best friends, the stories I have written for The Oracle, the projects I underwent in the fashion studio, the activities I led as a Peer Group leader, and so many more favorable moments with a smile on my face. But my musical would not be honest without acknowledging the times when high school was hard, and all the unfortunate, awkward, or disheartening moments that occurred.

So, although it wasn’t in the way I expected it to be, I can confidently say that my high school experience has been like a musical.  It’s been fun, enriching, and so rewarding, but also exhausting and convoluted. 

As I move forward and begin college in the fall, I know not to expect dancing in the dining hall or ballads in the library. 

But, in a much different way, I know I can expect it to be like a musical.