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Eddie's Take

Chelsea High School
10th grade
Age 15

I go to Chelsea High School, in the Lower East Side, New York City. It's mostly Hispanics and African Americans, but the diversity is still there. There are groups of "dark-skinned people" and groups of "light-skinned people." These groups do cross-over. A dark-skinned Hispanic or Haitian can hang out with members of the light-skinned group and a light-skinned Hispanic or Caucasian can hang out with dark-skinned students. I see how the different groups operate and notice the differences between them.

There are also groups of people who hang out with each other because of what they have in common. Some people don't even get along with other people in their groups, yet they stay in that group because they are scared that they will become an outcast. I've also noticed people join more than one group or clique. There are a select few who have friends in every single group because they are popular. Popular kids are free to hang out with people of every clique and they are comfortable with everyone regardless of age, gender, or grade.

In some ways, school is like a caste system. At the top of the scale are the most popular kids (mostly seniors). Then there are the popular kids friends (the people who aren't quite there but the lower 'classes' know not to mess with them because then they'll be outcasted by the cool kids). The next level is composed of different ethnic groups that have equal strength and numbers and sort of balance each other out. At the very bottom, it's the special education kids who are the outcasts. Most of the time, people don't move up and down easily, but it is possible to move on the popularity chart. (To move down is a lot easier than it is to move up.)

The caste system is a problem because different groups cause competition and friction with each other. In my opinion, I don't see a solution to this. Adults have to be there when something happens and to talk to the kids. My parents did not raise me to dislike people by the color of their skin, by their gender, or their popularity. It is hard for me to understand why people would do something like that but it happens and it's not going to go away anytime soon.