In 7th grade, who you are…is what other 7th graders say you are.


I was twelve years old.

A lot happened that year.

(Click on links and enjoy)

The New York Yankees were purchased by a Cleveland businessman, George Steinbrenner for 10 Million (Really!).

A president started the year with the fanfare of the inauguration only to end the year stating, “I am not a crook!” …it was the beginning of the end for his presidency.

Roe vs. Wade overturns a States right to ban abortion.

The world’s first cell phone is used for first time.

Pink Floyd’s DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, one of rock’s landmark albums is released.

The World Trade Center (Twin Towers) opens in New York City.

George Foreman defeats Joe Frazier for the Heavyweight World Boxing Championship, and the Miami Dolphins win the Super Bowl after completing the NFL’s only perfect season.

The Partridge Family introduced us to David Cassidy and Danny Bonaduce and Flip Wilson entertained America with the last of a dying breed … the variety show.

We were shown the end of innocence on television, as the networks bombarded us with violent images of the Vietnam War as we sat at our dinner tables each night.

Archie Bunker introduced controversial topics and social issues each week on the show, All In the Family. These episodes usually ended up being a backhanded way of soapbox preaching of a liberal agenda. Shocking in its day, but by today’s standard it was mild.  Click Here to watch this clip made in 1973 and see if there is anything that sounds like the news we heard last night.

As for me, I was a new seventh grader at Rocky Ridge Jr. High and 1973 was going to be a significant year for me. This school year I was going to change. I wanted to impress everyone. I was no longer an elementary student. I had arrived…I was a seventh grader…bulletproof and 10 ft tall. There was going to be a “new” me and I was sure I could pull it off.   I was going to be part of the “In Crowd”…the “Cool Kids”. All I had to do is get off to the right start…

I spent the entire night before trying to pick out which clothes I was going to wear on that first day of school. Like many events in my life, I tried to imagine what it was going to be like. I had practiced my witty comebacks and cut downs that are typical of the Junior High language.

There are a lot of things about junior high life that might seem simple to an outsider, but they’re not. Take the 15 minutes before homeroom every morning. What you do with those fifteen minutes says pretty much everything there is to say about you as a human being. If you were cool, you had places to go, people to see…

And if you weren’t you’d start to wonder who you’ll sit by at lunch.

Regardless of where you went to school, a junior high school cafeteria is like a microcosm of the world. The goal is to protect yourself, and safety comes in numbers.

More specifically “groups”.

You have your cool kids, you have your smart kids, you have your athletes, and in those days, of course, you had your hoods. In our little school in Ohio, these groups were even more splintered by the fact of where you lived. I was a “town” kid and there were rules that you had to follow. For example, there were no less than five different subgroups to each these larger groups.

Let me explain…you had:
o Kids that lived in town (Oak Harbor)
o Kids that lived in Graytown
o Kids that lived in Rocky Ridge (Ridge Runners)
o Kids that lived along the Toussaint River (Toussangers)
o Kids that lived South of Oak Harbor

Kids from Graytown, generally accepted the Toussangers and the Ridge Runners, but did not get along with the in town kids. Toussangers did not get along with the Ridge Runners, but accepted the in towners. Ridge Runners did not get along with the in town kids. As for the kids from south of town…they were not accepted by any these groups.

So as a fact of my junior high school, who you are is defined more or less, by who you are sitting next to during lunch.

In short, my initial 15 minutes in my homeroom that morning did not go well and I found myself trying to find a place to sit in the lunchroom.

After what seemed as an eternity, I saw an empty seat. It was a seat next to kids I hung out with in elementary school. I had not made the earth shattering change that I thought I would pull off. It was then I decided that I was happy there…right where I was supposed to be.

In 7th grade, who you are… is what other 7th graders say you are.

The funny thing is it’s hard to remember the names of kids I spent so much time trying to impress.

But then again, maybe it’s just me…


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