8 Reasons Why Private High School is Exactly Like Prison

It’s becoming clear to me the more I love something, the more I make fun of it.UTR prison poster image 

My High School was a Prison.

In 9th grade I went from being a home schooled American to a private schooled Canadian. My graduating class was about 50 people. Many of these kids knew each other since kindergarten. They created their very own culture and sense of normalcy (or lack of). I stepped right into it. I’ll have to be careful what I write because I don’t want to incriminate anyone. I’m saying this as a recovering home schooler; My high school was full of socially impaired misfits.

Here are a few examples:
Example 1. I glance over at the kid next to me, dead bird in his jacket. “I caught it.” he whispers.
Example 2. A relatively large percentage of these classmates were Puppeteers.
Example 3. An acceptable form of punishment was moving the desk of a student AND the student into the coat closet.

In many ways my school was like a prison. In many ways my personality is like someone who’s readjusting to life on the outside. I have no idea how to function in social situations, I find strange things hilarious. I’m jumpy and twitchy. I blame my high school class.

8 Reasons My School was a Prison According to Wikipedia

1. Security Buildings“Prisons are normally surrounded by fencing, walls, earthworks, geographical features, or other barriers to prevent escape. “- Wikipedia.images

It was rumored my high school building was created for an all-boys private school. That’s why it resembles prison. Complete with bars on windows, haunted rooms, stone walls and a chain-link fence around the perimeter. Harry Potter nerds, eat heart out. Hogwarts? I went to that school. All we were missing were the prison watch dogs, and magic.
The geological feature that prevented escape were the Canadian winters. It reaches -40 with howling winds. I once read Russian soviets put their POW’s in Siberia. I think we gave them the idea.040114.N.GFH.BLIZZARD.jpg

Memory of our Building:
– Screaming/clunking radiators were fixed by beating them with a baseball bat, we lovingly called this  an exorcism.
– Fires and broken windows. Usually due to someone in our class.
– Crumbling floors and randomly falling ceiling tiles. School was a real life video game. Jump, duck, run, freeze…time it wrong and you get a concussion or fall through the floor.

2. Inmate Security Classifications “ Generally, when an inmate arrives at a prison, they go through a security classification screening and risk assessment that determines where they will be placed within the prison system.” – Wikipedia.

The classification system for females is fierce in any high-school and mine was no exception. I think in small high schools it’s scarier to be accepted. There is nowhere to hide; everyone knows when you’re new. The classification system for the guys was a bit different. They made a sport out of making the girls paranoid, angry or cry. The more girls they made upset the more man-points they gained. Socially inept flirting or immature boredom? The key to surviving was to hide your weaknesses.

Example of Classification:
– Friend hates bugs, gets worms down her shirt.
– Steal and hide, shoes, bags, pens etc.
– Tell an insecure girl what animal she resembles. (Don’t forget to add why for extra man-points).

3.Educational Facilities and Programs“Prisoners seek education for a variety of reasons, including the development of skills for after release, personal enrichment and curiosity, finding something to fill their time, or trying to please prison staff (which can often secure early release for good behavior).”- Wikipedia

Here’s a few systems or programs my pris…school had in place.

Youth Parliament. Youtube Canadian Parliament. Now pretend all the politicians are teenagers, shouldn’t be difficult. Now picture it in prison. Throw the term “Mr.Speaker” in every third word and there you have it. It came around once a year like Christmas, but with anxiety instead of happiness, grades instead of presents and Mr. D the social studies teacher instead of baby Jesus.

Another educational tool our school had was the demerit system. Too many demerits resulted in your expulsion. After 4 years if you survived the demerits, you were released with your diploma.

Memory of Educational Programs:
– The most memorial expulsion was after one kid provided our math class an impromptu sex-ed lesson. Complete with the aid of a manequine. I don’t think that was fair. It was actually very informative for some of us. (I can’t remember why our math class had a manequine.)

– Demerit for clicking pen too many times
– Demerit for ripping paper too loudly
– Demerits for giggling. That’s right. Demerits for happiness.

4. Libraries“ Many prisons also provide a library where prisoners can check out books, or do legal research for their cases. Often these libraries are very small, consisting of a few shelves of books.”- Wikipedia.

Yup we had one of those exactly. A few shelves. In our basement.

5. Recreation and Fitness – “Many prisons provide limited recreational and fitness facilities for prisoners.”– Wikipedia

“Limited” being the key word. My school had a gym in the basement next to the “library” and a field/lawn. The lawn has since been converted to a parking lot.

This would probably be an appropriate time to discuss the pantsing fascination my school had, since it usually occurred in gym class. I never understood it, but it would be wrong to write a blog about the ’04 class and not mention pantsing. Also, the guys fascination with hitting each other in the nuts. One year the girls did go around hitting each other in the boobs. Maybe so they didn’t feel left out, but it didn’t have the same effect, whatever effect that is. Perhaps our school should have invested in more counselors. 

Example: Don’t be ridiculous. If it can be thrown at someone’s nuts, that’s an example. Furniture included.

Memory Recreation, Fitness and Pantsing:
-There are many stories my classmates refer to as “the Pantsing of so and so” which have become legends. I can’t share any of those stories because I don’t remember them accurately. My therapy must be paying off. 

6. Control units“A control unit or segregation unit (also called a “block” or “isolation cell”) is a highly secure area of the prison, where inmates are placed in solitary confinement to isolate them from the general population.” – Wikipedia

IMG_2350Our isolation cell we called the “sick room”. This is where every student went to avoid class. No school nurse, just a sick room. (Even prisoners get nurses). The highly secure area I’m referring to was a converted janitor’s closet. It consisted of a used couch and pillow covered in everyone else’s imaginitive or legitimate sicknesses from the past 5 years.

Novel idea. Let’s put all the sick undiagnosed kids or all the trouble makers skipping class into one small closet with plushy furniture that goes unmonitored, soaks up all the germs and is not kept to any code of cleanliness. If those walls could speak I’d light them on fire. Much gossip, secrets and girl cries have happened in the janitor’s closet, along with other things I’m sure.

Memory of the Control Unit:
-If I remember correctly the sick room was also called the make out closet.

7. Common facilities – “Modern prisons often hold hundreds or thousands of inmates, and must have facilities onsite to meet most of their needs, including dietary, health, fitness, education, religious practices, entertainment, and many others.” -Wikipedia

Our facility only held about a couple hundred inmates at most, but did seek to meet the needs stated above.
Dietery- We had a few options to choose from which fit into our 16 year old budget. Slurpee’s, Tim Horton’s and Johnny’s poutine. 2 out of those 3 committed you to the sick room. Guess which ones.7.8 poutine
Entertainment – Let’s face it, the 4 years was entertaining. 
Health & Fitness– We had gym class. Which I usually skipped…in the sick room. (NOT making out!)
Education– It was a school in the literal sense.
Religious practices – Memory verses and Bible class every day and Chapel every Friday. I always looked forward to chapel, especially when there was a particular bass player on stage who would one day be my husband. Oh, and because of God.

8. Other facilities“In addition to the above facilities, others that are common include prison factories and workshops, visiting areas, mail rooms, telephone and computer rooms, a prison store (often called a “canteen”) where prisoners can purchase goods, or a death row where prisoners who have been sentenced to death await execution.” –Wikipedia

Take what you just read and replace the word “prisoner” with “student”. We had each and every one of those things… minus the death row.“…student factories and workshops, visiting areas, mail rooms, telephone and computer rooms, a student store (often called a “canteen”) where students can purchase goods, or a death row where students who have been sentenced to death await execution.” – Megan P.20140830_133926 (1)

I loved my high school. The teachers and staff did their best with limited supplies, space and a building crumbling away beneath their feet and falling apart above their heads. It’s where I met my husband and friends that would change my life forever. It’s been 10 years and although I’d never want to go back to prison, I’m so glad I was sentenced for 4 years.

Things that probably wont make sense to you and I don’t feel like explaining:
Integrity = wholeness
Maps and colored pencils
Classmates singing the line “American woman, get away from me.”
Rotting sandwiches behind lockers
Tripping up those cursed steps
The menopause talk in Bible class…
Grad being more important than the Canadian primary elections
Adventures on the school bus
“Volunteering” to clean the neighbors yards
many many more..

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2 thoughts on “8 Reasons Why Private High School is Exactly Like Prison

  1. I read the first line and that explained it all…

    “In 9th grade I went from being a home schooled American to a private schooled Canadian.”

    What makes it even more funny is that I went to the same school and graduated before you did, so take your stories and up then a notch. Thankfully, the prison windows have since been upgraded by windows you could actually jump out of (which you would NOT find at a prison. Then again, maybe I shouldn’t be thankful for that.

    You failed to mention how any given student could tell you how many dots were on a ceiling tile.

    Great post Megan. I enjoyed it especially for reasons you and Jon would understand 😉

    Liked by 2 people

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