DORIAN: I go to Mt. Rainier High School its between Olympia and Seattle out in the middle class suburbs. My high school isn’t like the ones on T.V. where most students are gang members. Instead, most people shop at the Bon Marche, drive to school in the morning and then they drive home in the afternoon. You see, in the suburbs almost all students drive; you have to unless you want your dad to drive you when you go on a date. In the halls of my school you hear the sound of lockers closing not the sound of gun fire.
Its just an average school. In the morning we have the announcements over the intercom system. And then we have our classes.
(The sound of Announcements being made over an intercom.)
Like all schools we have cliques; they’re kind of like close groups of friends. At our school we have the Rockers, those are people that listen to heavy metal music; the Crows, those are people that wear black lip stick and black clothes; we have the nerds; and then we have the jocks. In my history class this year it was so bad that on the right hand side of the class all the popular people and jocks sat and then on the right hand side all the nerds sat and then in the center of the classroom there was a row of empty desks; it was kind of like the green line in Beirut. It was like you had to chose a group. I have friends from a lot of different groups so I guess I never really chose one. Even though you think you’re really good friends with someone at high school, I found after talking to a lot of my friends and asking them about their lives I knew a lot less about my friends then I thought I knew. One of the people I spoke to was my friend Rishad, he is a member of the popular crowd at my school. I asked him what high school meant to him?
RISHAD: “I know I don’t like take school as serious as I used to. I just don’t. I do care, I just some things aren’t as important as other things are and school rights now is just one of the problems I’ve got. Until I started using drugs pretty much that was probably what it was that was probably what it was. I was always straight A’s and everything, I was in honors classes and all. But now that I’ve tried it and experienced things. School just doesn’t seem as important to me as it used to be. I don’t know. I want to do what I want to do you know.”
DORIAN: What made you first use drugs?
RISHAD: “Curiosity? I, ah… Pretty much a lot of my friends were, I wasn’t peer pressured by any means. And they’re like, you should try this sometime it’s cool.”
DORIAN: Do your parents know, or…?
RISHAD: Yeah, I hid it from my mom for a long time. I mean she still thought I was perfect, momma’s little boy. But I finally told her a few months ago and I thought it would actually bring us closer to help us understand what we can do about it, but she’s been, being rejecting me in that sort of manner and so. I don’t know. My parents have been split up for, since I was like three. But, that—that doesn’t really have anything to do with it I just… (pause) I just, um, I don’t know, I do what I want to do. I mean I guess I do kind of hide from my problems by going and smoking a bowl or doing what ever I do. But I’m not a hard core druggy and all, you know. Over half my class drinks or does some type of drug or smokes or something.
DORIAN: What do you want to do after high school?
RISHAD: “Well I wanted to become a professional baseball player. Whatever encourages me, I really want to be a baseball player or like psychiatry and psychology.”
Before I talked to Rishad I never really knew about his life. I always thought because he was popular and he wouldn’t have any problems. He always had something to do on Friday and Saturday night. I guess now I wondered after talking to Rishad what it would take for someone to stop using drugs, and what causes someone to use drugs in the first place. Because of this I spoke to my friend John. John, before he came to our school, was addicted to drugs. He got kicked out of school for possession of a weapon, he used to steal cars to support his drug habit, and got caught for travelers check fraud. After John threatened to kill his father he was sent to drug treatment. He went to treatment in July and since then he’s been sober. I asked John what his life was like before he went to drug treatment and stopped using drugs and alcohol.