Have you heard?

By Allegra Tepper

Overheardathw.tumblr.com might boast some incriminating lines straight from the lips of Harvard-Westlake students, but don’t go calling Chiara* ’09, the founder and gatekeeper to the site, Gossip Girl. “This is definitely not a gossip website,” Chiara said. “It’s just a collection of the ridiculous things we catch each other saying around campus.”

Chiara first started blogging just over a month ago after she and some friends decided Harvard-Westlake students’ one-liners deserved the permanence and infamy of the web, following in the footsteps of bloggers at Yale, Harvard, Stanford and in the Big Apple.

At first the site only featured things Chiara caught, but as the following grew, so did the contributing pool.

These days Chiara posts five or six new quotes a day, each identified only by position or gender. Fellow eavesdroppers send their findings in to the site’s gmail account, and Chiara filters quotations minimally.

“Even if I don’t find something funny, I still post it,” Chiara said. “People have different senses of humor.”

While Chiara made certain the school’s name is never mentioned on the site, Harry Salamandra, Head of School, said the mere usage of the letters “HW” affiliate the website with the school. But as far as the vulgar language used on Overheard is concerned, Salamandra feels that this generation is more open to crude expressions and doesn’t think it poses an issue.

The blog is followed by Harvard-Westlake graduates in addition to the many current students discovering the site each day. Rachel Katz ’11 believes that beyond providing entertainment, the website helps build is community.

“This is really amusing for all different types of people, and I think it is more successful at bringing us together than spirit days or Coffee Bean,” Katz said.

Chiara agrees; many of the e-mails she receives are from peers she rarely talks to or underclassmen she has never met.

As for next year, Chiara plans to pass the torch on to upperclassmen interested in keeping a new tradition alive.

Administrators worry more about posts being offensive and malicious than about vulgarity, but Chiara addresses skeptics’ qualms with total confidence.

“We’re not trying to make anyone feel stupid, but sometimes you catch yourself saying something ridiculous, and you have to embrace it!” Chiara said. “People take themselves too seriously, and it’s time to lighten up.”

*Name has been withheld upon request.