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7 Signs You Went to School in Southern California

by Monica Puccetti Feb 6, 2018

Everyone has their own memories of their school days, but us SoCal kids really had it good, even if we didn’t know it. We never had to walk to school in the rain and even winter break was sunny, but we didn’t know this was odd. To us, it was normal; we were normal (at least we prayed we were) and school was normal, but we definitely had some defining quirks. You’d understand if you were there.

Here are 7 signs you went to school in Southern California.

1. Your Spanish class was basically a Maná jam session.

If Maná only knew how popular they were with SoCal Spanish teachers they might stop making music videos and save us all the pain of hearing their songs on repeat. It’s not that their music was bad; it was just that we heard it so much. Seriously, it’s more than a decade later and I can still remember the words to Mariposa Traicionera.

2. You proudly stuck a squid on your forehead in the 5th grade.

The three most anticipated days of the year in any SoCal elementary school are the days of Outdoor Ed, a truly phenomenal program that takes elementary school-aged children to the Catalina Islands for a long weekend full of snorkeling, science, and, most importantly, no parents. It was an unofficial rite of passage to stand up in your kayak, put dissected squid guts on your face, and not shower for the entire trip. I’m sure our teachers loved the last one.

3. The last few weeks of classes were unbearable.

Unless you were lucky enough to go to school in a fancy new classroom, the last few weeks before summer were one disgusting string of sweaty, heat-drenched days after another. Air conditioning just wasn’t deemed necessary when it only got hot right before summer. On a positive note, kids avoided summer school like the plague (and you would too once you’ve smelled a non-air-conditioned room populated by 30 teenagers who haven’t figured out the shower yet).

4. You’ve skipped class to surf at least once.

Bonus points if you did this in winter; you’re a true-blooded SoCal kid. January was a popular month for this coast-based habit, after all, there was no way sitting through one more AP Physics review session could compete with catching a few more morning waves.

5. If you had a car, you were the designated burrito-delivery person.

Lunch periods were a carefully crafted science. If you had 30 minutes you knew exactly how far you could go for food before you had to race back to class. Often times you’d slide into your seat with mere seconds to spare, but it was all worth it once you took a bite of that sweet, sweet al pastor goodness. Friendships were made and broken over burrito deliveries. You never wanted to disappoint on a lunchtime burrito promise.

6. Your entire school was outside.

The first time I set foot in a high school outside of SoCal I was shocked… it was all inside. Literally, one massive building housed the entire school, hallways, lockers, classrooms, and all. In hindsight, this makes sense when you live where there is actual weather, but it did not mesh with my memories of school in SoCal. Schools in SoCal are little-fenced complexes made up of individual buildings, long open corridors, grassy quads, and lockers that faced the sun. Apparently, when there’s no weather to hide from, kids get more fresh air.

7. You had fire days, not snow days.

Speaking of weather, we never missed school for anything fun like snow, no, instead we missed school for fires. When the air quality got too bad from the smoke, they would cancel school, but it took a lot to have that happen. I have a particularly vivid memory of sitting on ash dusted cement steps and watching the flames lick across the not-so-distant hills during one middle school lunch period. I was more worried about the ash in my sandwich than the flames across the way.

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