The Mittle-man on Campus: The Best Sequel Ever

Illustration+Credit%3A+Sydney+Fener

Illustration Credit: Sydney Fener

Sarah Mittleman, Opinion Editor

‘The Mittle-man on Campus’ is a satirical column centered around high school clichés and the teenage experience that will appear in The Chronicle once every two weeks. None of the articles in this column are representative of the opinions of The Chronicle staff.

School is starting up again, but, more importantly, today kicks off season two of this column. I’m a senior now, which means I’m super mature, way more interesting and totally protagonist material. Good riddance, junior year me!

Last year my comments section was flooded with the sentiment that I had unrealistic expectations for high school. Now that I’m a senior, I trust that my suggestions will be taken a little bit more seriously (hint hint, President of School Rick Commons). After all, I’m not just some random student wandering around the Quad, demanding change —I’m a role model. Not to mention a star columnist.

I’ll be honest though — when the editors asked me to continue this column,  I was initially hesitant. Everyone knows sequels are never quite as good as the original, and I refuse to disappoint. Although I tried to explain this, the editors really want me to continue. Apparently, they think it’s “amusing” (not sure why).  I guess I’ll just have to be the first great sequel in history.

This time around, I’m fully stepping into my role as the school’s resident Advice Giver and embracing the strenuous job of changing lives one article at a time. I take this responsibility extremely seriously, which is why I have plenty of opinions regarding the first days of school.

Convocation is supposed to be a celebration of a new year and a welcome to all of the fresh-faced students. One key aspect of this initiation is a series of speeches, from both faculty members and our beloved prefects. However, one glaring fault prevented me from truly appreciating the event. While they were all extremely poised and articulate, I found myself wondering why I had not been commissioned to speak to the school. After all, am I not the Head (and only) Advice Giver on campus, perhaps even more instructive than the deans? Sure, it’s great to get elected students and hired professionals to step up on the podium and deliver heartfelt comments about their experiences and hopes for the new year, but haven’t we run that plotline into the ground by now? The audience of bored, sweaty teenagers is just begging for a fresh concept, and clearly, the writers’ room isn’t listening.

Now, I know my readers may be thinking that I’m simply interested in the spotlight. Put those worries aside because there wasn’t even a lighting crew at Convocation, so the best lighting I got was direct sunlight just like everybody else. The fact is that I know what I’m talking about — I’m a senior, after all — and my poignant commentary is clearly under-appreciated. Because I expected an email from my good friend Mr. Commons requesting my assistance at Convocation, I even drafted a speech. As the school failed to put my writing talents to use, I’ve attached an excerpt below for my dedicated followers to enjoy.

 Welcome back, students and faculty! I am overjoyed to be standing in front of so many impressionable young minds, your brains just waiting to mold to my views. For those of you who don’t know me — oh, who am I kidding? Of course you guys know me! — I’ve been the main character my entire life. Keep your applause for the very end, thank you. Being the most important person in every room can be really challenging, and it heavily affected the belief systems I hold dear. Through that difficult life experience, I learned the importance of charity. Many of you will look back on your high school years and cringe — although I certainly won’t —, but those of you who I can reach will be gifted an opportunity to become more than just a silly extra.

 This year, I’m offering workshops to help students discover their true potential.  I will coach students on how to dress, how to act and how to sabotage other blossoming protagonists (there can only be one winner). Coincidentally, this workshop will take place whenever I have math class. This school’s mission statement challenges students to find a purpose beyond ourselves — well, I have discovered mine in this program.  To my math teacher: Isn’t the sense of greater purpose I have found in serving my community more important than statistics?

 As we enter this year, I have a few requests for the student body. First, I expect to be asked out at a much higher rate than last year. My number of dates was woefully low, and if something doesn’t change soon, I’m going to have to speak to the deans. Secondly, consider this my formal request for a prefect robing ceremony (let’s call it a “Sarahmony”). Since I’m practically  Head of School at this point, it’s the bare minimum. Lastly, I implore my teachers to recognize that as an extremely busy journalist and advice columnist, I’m not going to be able to spend time doing busywork in the afternoons — so no homework, thanks.

 When I’m not being wooed by love interests or fashionably walking around campus, I’m available for questions. You can find me by the pool seducing the swim team.

As you can see, the speech is exceptional. Unfortunately, Prefect Council is yet to authorize my “Sarahmony,” and the deans seem reluctant to let me skip math for my workshops, so I’m still working out the kinks of this passion project. In the meantime, let’s cut to the chase. Pretty soon, we’re going to be plummeted into the dark abyss that is first semester: cold, bitter evenings arriving as early as 4 p.m., stacks of textbooks just begging to be cracked and confusing Los Angeles weather patterns that switch between gusts of frigid wind and boiling hot rays of sun. This means that you guys are going to need my assistance when it comes to the new year. Fortunately, I came prepared. Here are five helpful tips for not only surviving school but thriving in it:

  1. Stay productive by imagining yourself as Elle Woods prepping for her LSATS. That upcoming APUSH test may be even harder than law school, especially if you’re also trying to focus on your ACT or SAT. Live your life like it’s a montage — wear a studious outfit of a pleated miniskirt, knee-high socks and glasses (regardless of if you need them or not), go somewhere with dark, wooden bookcases and an expensive desk and cheer whenever you get closer to your goal. Don’t worry about making too much noise, even if it’s a public library; if you get shushed, that’s just comedic relief. These tips are bound to get you into study mode;  plus, you might even catch the eye of a law student/love interest.
  2. Make everything about yourself. People love that. You’ll become the main character wherever you go if you just tie the conversation to something you can relate to. For example, let’s say your English teacher is discussing Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein.”  Raise your hand and say something along the lines of: “This reminds me of that one time a fire alarm went off in my house at three in the morning. I was so exhausted that I was like a walking corpse. Total Frankenstein’s monster behavior.” Or, if you’re reading “The Great Gatsby,” pitch in and point out: “I relate to Daisy’s character because there’s always more than one guy obsessed with me.” This tactic is fantastic for English classes, but it also works in other subjects. History: “I’m a lot like George Washington because we’re both trendsetters. He was the first U.S. President, I brought back low-rise jeans and we both made history.” Science: “I’ve been told I resemble Osmium’s density levels.” Math: “I’m similar to trigonometry because we’re both full of tangents.” This tip has worked wonders for me and helps me win over all my teachers in the process! I’ve even gotten comments on my report card asking me to participate less, proving how memorable I have been. Total protagonist behavior.
  3. Live the teenage dream. The best way to picture high school as something more than four years of glorified juvie is to fake it ‘till you make it. Spend all day living your best life: Give yourself a post-summer glow-up with a new hairdo and original style and wink at unsuspecting students. Throw out the heavy-duty three-ring binders and unfashionable Jansports and replace them with adorable travel-sized notebooks and bedazzled tote bags.  Color-coordinate your pencils and draw attention to them whenever you can to attract compliments. Not doing so well in school because you’re never actually prepared for class? Enlist the help of a brilliant nerd for tutoring sessions and get them to fall in love with you.  Remember to spend every afternoon at the mall shopping with your BFFs for the trendiest clothes —  staying at home all day isn’t stylish. If you get exhausted after a long day of garnering attention from your peers, stop by at a local cafe à la Rory Gilmore and aesthetically sip a latte. The possibilities are endless!
  4. Trade natural for supernatural. After all, nothing says “high school” like a werewolf boyfriend: Not only are they pack animals, which means they’re probably ready to settle down, but they’re also pretty good-looking. If canines aren’t really your thing, try a vampire or even a wizard. Even if he sparkles in the sun a little too often or never goes a day without bragging about the spells he can cast, he’ll still be way more interesting than an average human. I have yet to date a magical creature, but I’m still crossing my fingers that a rebellious dragon or fae will sweep me off my feet just in time for Homecoming Formal.
  5. Don’t be afraid to be smart. Countless movies depict this situation: the ditsy girl turns out to be a secret genius but feels compelled to hide her intelligence in exchange for continued popularity. I hate to be the one to break the news, but this school is full of nerds. Trust me — I’ve tried being the ditsy girl, and the result is a lot of parent-teacher meetings, not love and attention. Also, I recently discovered from touring colleges that a good candidate is actually both interesting and bright. I didn’t realize that was possible (seems like they’re asking a lot), but it means this cliche no longer checks out in the real world. It’s time to simultaneously hit the books and be popular. Keep that grade point average high and your head low this year because everyone knows that the best protagonists get into great schools: Elle Woods goes to Harvard Law, Blair Waldorf goes to New York University and Rory Gilmore goes to Yale University. To make sure you’re the ultimate main character, fight for your future!

And with that, my friends, I wish you all an incredible first few weeks of the new year.  Shoutout to the cafeteria employees for surviving a horrific first-day horde of hungry students at lunchtime and the teachers for managing to fit an ungodly amount of icebreakers into 35-minute periods. And to my close friends President of School Rick Commons and Head of Upper School Beth Slattery, think about the robing “Sarahmony,” will you?