Once upon a time there was a high school. It was a beautiful high school, and rich in history, being more than 200 years old, and everybody in town wanted to attend it. With its fine roots in liberal education and the almost unprecedented power over their own destinies that it bestowed upon its students, it was unlike any other high school in the district, or indeed, the state. At the turn of the last century, whole families, many of them Irish and Eastern European, moved across town so that they’d be zoned for it. The high school welcomed them with open arms, but the students weren’t so kind. It is my sad duty to report that many of these new students were beaten up, or had their lockers vandalized. Thankfully, things settled down, and the high school was once again a harmonious whole.
In the 40s, there was a shameless and dangerous power grab by a school superintendent a few districts over. He was intent upon eventually absorbing every school in the state into his district, under his control, and decreeing with a wave of his hand who could stay and who could not. Fortunately, the president of the student body, a well-liked disabled guy named Frank, worked tirelessly with the other schools until the superintendent was voted safely out of office.
But our story begins about fifteen years ago with the election of a Jock to Student Body President. The Jock was a nice guy, everybody liked him, and there was no denying that he had charm. He was a great guy to grab a burger with, and, whoever you were, you felt like the Jock knew where you were coming from. At this time – actually, to this day – the Jock was going steady with someone who defied high school logic.
Instead of dating a cheerleader, as guys of his ilk so often do, the Jock had chosen a militant, angry feminist, who, until she began seeing the Jock, was known to the student body at large only as “That Chick Who Stands In Front Of The Cafeteria Yelling Ayn Rand Quotes At The Top Of Her Lungs”.
Even though many students found her abrasive, they couldn’t deny that the Jock’s Girlfriend knew politics, so they hesitatingly took her along with him. There were rumors that the Jock was seeing other girls on the side, everybody heard the rumors, even the Jock’s Girlfriend, but most chose to ignore them. The whole school exploded, though, when it turned out that the Jock was Friends With Benefits with a freshman girl named Monica. There was some fallout, talk of expulsion, but the Jock and his girlfriend stood their ground. The students were a little confused when the Jock’s Girlfriend, with all her talk of feminism and equality, didn’t leave him for his transgression. Instead, she affected a “stand by your man” attitude about the whole thing, a concept her feminist girlfriends weren’t sure if they should take offense to.
The next Student Body President was from Texas, he, too, was a jock, but with a Cowboy sensibility. The only person to run against him was former Student Body Vice President, a Math Geek. Well, I say the only person, but Ralph ran too. Ralph, an intense loner, ran for Student Body President every election, always garnering no more votes than he had friends. Ralph had Big Ideas about what the high school could be, and had even caused some huge shakeups in the Driver’s Ed program, penalizing students for not wearing seat belts. But Ralph kind of creeped out the other students with his Big Ideas, and, perhaps sadly, was never elected.
There was a pretty big controversy when the Cowboy was elected, the Math Geek freaked out a little after the votes were tallied, and said that all the votes from 5th period Shop Class had to be counted again. This was especially hard to do because 5th period shop was always the class with the most rampant vote tampering, mostly just so those guys have something to brag about.
But the Cowboy finally came into office, and not too long after there was a terrible moment in the school’s history. A bomb went off at assembly, and a lot of students died. While the school picked up the pieces, the Cowboy said he knew who did it, and, with the support of almost the entire student body, he led the entire football team to the rival school in the middle of the night and graffitied their mascot, broke their windows, and pretty much declared victory.
Not too long after that, the Cowboy informed the student body that yet another rival school was preparing to mobilize against them. Several members of the football team and even a couple of school administrators swore that they’d seen students of the other school buying spray paint and crowbars at the Home Depot, in violation of an earlier agreement. Again, with much of the student body behind him, the Cowboy ransacked the rival school. Unfortunately, three semesters later, after searching every locker twice, no spray paint or crowbars materialized.
The whole student body, dissatisfied at best by the Cowboy’s administration, turned their eyes to next year’s candidates, of whom there were a lot. There was the hotshot baseball star, but some people expressed concern because he was a Mormon. There was the popular serial dater, on his third steady girlfriend; the senior who’d been taken captive in a long-ago raid on a rival school; and That Guy Everybody Likes Because He Does Commercials.
On the other side there was the Golden Boy, a transfer student who only recently appeared on the scene but who’d already been thrice voted “best all-round guy”. And, to the surprise of no one, the Jock’s Girlfriend was running.
The high school had a number of huge issues facing it: a disproportionate number of Mexicans were wandering the halls, sneaking in from across town, not even zoned for the high school. The level of care received in the school nurse’s office was being called into question. The Cowboy was still searching lockers. More and more students were becoming annoyed by rallies and proclamations in the cafeteria – but how to respect everyone’s beliefs without ending free speech?
And the students are still at odds: What will be this story’s happy ending?