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The LEAP Student Blog

Brenden Archer Shadle Park HS | The Fight Beyond Mediocrity

Author: Brenden Archer  
Grade: Junior
School: Shadle Park
Mascot: Highlanders
League: Greater Spokane 3A/4A
Classification: 3A

The Fight Beyond Mediocrity

Some in the greater Spokane community seem to believe that Shadle Park High School is just a “modern, comprehensive high school.” And, sadly, that term has become quite negative in today’s landscape. Shadle, as most students call it (either out of laziness or sincere affection for the school), is situated in Northwestern Spokane. For the outsider, it seems to consist only of a few below-average test scores, a few decent sports programs, and several typical AP classes. To the casual observer, almost everything about the school seems to scream mediocrity.  Even the building itself advocates a sense of boredom: it’s shaped like a giant block.
Both my father (who has taught English at Shadle for ten and a half years) and I have struggled with this perception for the last few years.  While other schools in the area have advertised their STEM programs, numerous athletic state titles, or high AP-enrollment numbers, Shadle’s status as nothing more than a simple “modern, comprehensive high school” just hasn’t seemed to fit. It’s almost as if it has been assigned the normalcy and boredom of any high school, and everyone else’s expectations of us seem to prevail.

But I forget that this expected culture suddenly shifts under certain conditions. Most notably, when students hear the sound of bagpipes.

Every Con commences with the performance of the Shadle Park Pipe Band (which consists of several bagpipers and a drum corps). All of a sudden, where the ordinary seems to be celebrated, the extraordinary comes to life in our gymnasium. The pipe band’s rendition of Scotland the Brave is familiar to all, even though most have never even been to Scotland. A considerable number aren’t even Scottish.

I have had the tremendous privilege of being part of such a culture and being part of the group that makes Highlander pride so unique. I began coming to practices during my eighth-grade year, hoping to become a snare-drummer, and even got to play with the group in the Lilac Parade (in early May in downtown Spokane) before even becoming a Highlander. I quickly saw why this band was a source of pride for many, because after all, how many high schools in the country have their own pipe band?

When I got to play with the pipe band on the first-day-of-school Con as a freshman, I was greeted with wave after wave of applause, cheers, and shouts. They can’t seem to understand how our sticks move so fast or how to even play the bagpipes. But here we all are anyway--a bunch of teenagers who unite because of the qualities associated with being a Highlander.

We are Highlanders alright, with loads of Highlander pride. We may be unassuming and unintimidating to many on the outside, and the fact that we are “only” a “modern, comprehensive high school” seems to take away from our overall value. Indeed, it seems that those kinds of high schools are even becoming extinct. But this high school is still kicking. Why? Because all of these criticisms fall short compared to the immense spirit and pride that comes with being who we all are.


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