Navigating high school is tough, but navigating a performing arts high school? Well, that’s a whole other experience altogether. Here are 20 nostalgic, somewhat cringe-worthy signs that you went to a performing arts high school as a teenager.

  1. There was always some sort of music playing in the halls.

Whether it was an instrumental major shredding on guitar, a vocal major belting out like Whitney, or just the average art major playing alternative rock on their portable speakers, there was always music filling the halls.

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  1. There was some beef between the academic teachers and the arts teachers.

It’s an arts school, so obviously the academic teachers felt like they were put on the backburner. But we can’t forget the subtle subs in class when a student would be late, and the Calc teacher would be like “you wouldn’t be late to a rehearsal like this.” And you just have to shut your mouth and take your seat because… they’re kind of right.

  1. You could wear whatever the hell you wanted.

The best thing about an artsy school is that no one gives a shit about what brand you’re wearing, or if you’re assimilating with everyone else. Cause everyone’s fashion sense is weird and eccentric and unique, so you didn’t have to worry. And that was awesome. Well, except the dance majors, who mainly wore sweat pants every single day.

  1. You were in awe of the other talents at your school.

If you were a vocal major, you would ogle at how the dance majors could tell stories through movement. If you were a dance major, you were amazed by the precision and artistry of the painters and sculptors in the school. If you were an art major, you were baffled by how drama majors could be fearless and bold on stage without any inhibitions. You all supported and were in awe of each other, and sometimes even a little jealous.

  1. The LGBT+ community was celebrated.

This was arguably one of the best things about being at an arts school. Sure, there were always some bigots but it was definitely more accepting of a community than other high schools.

  1. There was probably a drug ring in the boys’ locker room.

With the arts and acceptance and creativity and imagination and all that, comes the shitty aspects. Your high school definitely had at least pot dealers, if nothing else. But for the real artsy schools, the drugs were rampant.

  1. Drama kids were the most annoying.

I was a drama kid, so I know. We just talk so much, but that’s literally what we do. Talk. On stage. What did you expect?

  1. The talent could sometimes be overwhelming.

You probably were one of the few artsy kids in your middle school (unless you went to a performing arts middle school), so being at a place where everyone was as passionate as you were was both rewarding… and overwhelming. You sometimes felt a little less special and struggled with self-esteem, but you also formed a sense of belongingness and community.

  1. The arts teachers were ridiculous and eccentric.

It wasn’t anything like Sikowitz from Victorious, but you probably had a teacher who loved to teach barefoot, or a teacher who dabbled in every profession in the world just for shits and giggles. I know I did.

  1. You probably had some weird, impractical elective every year.

I had yoga as part of my drama block Freshman year. Why? To this day, I do not know.

  1. Holidays were lit.

The instrumental majors would bring out their drums and saxophones and prance down the halls while vocal majors went Christmas caroling in each class. If these things weren’t allowed at your school, you still had people go crazy before the holidays during lunch or free periods and play music.

  1. It was really nice and kind of surprising to see academic teachers at your performances.

It may seem like a little thing now, but it was always really refreshing to see your Physics teacher come to the Shakespeare festival, or your Bio teacher at the Spring concert. It was nice to see your academic teachers supporting the arts.

  1. Staying late after school for rehearsals became a part of your daily routine.

You complained about it a lot, but you made amazing friends and memories because of them. You missed out on sleep though.

  1. Cutting academic classes for rehearsals or to sleep in also became a normal thing.

Even if you loved your academic classes, you had to sleep. Due to #8, some things had got to give.

  1. Your favorite phrase was “I can’t hang out, I have rehearsal.”

It may not have been what you wanted to say, but it became a part of your vocabulary regardless.

  1. Cast parties were the place to be.

The time where you could celebrate all those late nights of suffering through tech rehearsals and not doing your homework with underage drinking and hooking up. But there were also the tamer cast parties, which sometimes ended up being more fun.

  1. You hated the “go-getters” in your school.

Ah, yes. The people who would shove anyone aside to get the lead in the school musical, or the solo in the dance piece. These were the people who ended up having no friends by the end of senior year, hoping to get a BFA at some random conservatory you’ve never heard of.

  1. Favoritism was a thing.

Just like in the “real world”, all these performing arts high schools had their share of favoritism, whether it be because of teacher bias or how much a student’s family donates to the school. Some schools had it worse than others, but not everyone always got a fair shot. And that sucked.

  1. Although some people were really annoying, you found the people who you loved and bonded with.

Being the artsy kid in a “normal” school where the focus is mainly on sports teams and social hierarchies can be extremely taxing, so being at a school where the focus was something you were extremely passionate about was refreshing. As much as you may have been overwhelmed or annoyed by people at your school, you found a community there with people who were just as passionate about you. And you found really amazingly talented, creative individuals who inspired you.

  1. You find yourself missing that kind of community elsewhere in life.

There’s really nothing like it. Even if you are now in a BFA program, it’s different when so much emphasis is put on career, and you know, paying 40k+ each year to do it. Being surrounded by artistic and creative teenagers during such a malleable part of your life is really unforgettable. Even though there were definitely times where the pressure and stress was high and some people could be toxic, there were still those times of euphoria, excitement and just appreciation for the arts in general. You learn to be humble and gracious, and also learn to take risks and be brave. And you found some pretty decent people along the way.

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